Custody is undoubtedly one of the most contested and emotionally charged issues in the area of family law. For most people, there are few things, if any, as important to their happiness and well-being as their children. With work hours, the commute, and other obligations, the time we get to spend with our children is already limited, so it’s normal to want more if you don’t have full custody. Our Doylestown child custody lawyers are skilled in handling negotiations and legal proceedings related to child custody, and we can’t wait to put our experience and expertise to work for you.
Why Choose Us?
At Petrelli Previtera, we believe we provide four clear benefits:
- Results-driven counsel: We fight for the results you need, want, and deserve.
- Low-risk, low-stress approach: Our cases resolve as quickly as possible, saving you time and stress.
- Clear, consistent communication: We make a point of communicating regularly with you so that you have up-to-date information and a better sense of control over the legal process.
- Unparalleled dedication: We don’t dabble in a little of this and a little of that. We focus on the one thing you need: tangible results.
Why does having a fast, results-oriented family law attorney matter? On a practical level, it’s cost-effective. The less time your case takes—especially if you’re hoping to avoid litigation—the less costly it will be. More crucially, in our vast experience, we know that the longer a child custody case takes, the more damage it causes. We don’t want to see that happen, and we know you don’t either.
Types of Custody in Doylestown
As in all divorce and other family law matters, when you and your spouse can come to a mutual agreement about the custody of your children, it is to your advantage. Even if you hit some roadblocks, you may work through your conflicts with skilled negotiation or mediation and come to terms that everyone agrees to. These terms will be detailed in a legal contract called a child custody agreement and both parents will be bound by them. Unfortunately, if the two of you can’t reach an amicable agreement, the court will inevitably step in and make the final decision on your behalf.
In Doylestown, there are two types of custody:
Sole custody gives one parent full legal and physical custody of the child. This means that one parent has the right to make key decisions about the child’s upbringing including medical care, education, religion instruction, and general welfare. The other parent is given visitation rights but typically does not have any decision-making authority over the child.
In a joint custody arrangement, the parents share in the decision-making responsibilities of the child. They also have equal responsibility to physically care for the child. It’s important to note that joint custody doesn’t necessarily mean that both parents will get to spend equal time with the child. It simply means that both parents have substantial and regular time.
Doylestown Custody Factors
When it comes to determining child custody matters, the guiding principle for Doylestown family court judges is what is in the best interest of the child. The factors weighed by the court include but are not limited to:
- The child’s preference (with more weight afforded to older children).
- Whether there is a history of child abuse and which parent can best keep the child safe.
- The willingness of each parent to foster a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Whether either party engaged in any abuse of the other parent or the child.
- Maintaining stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and activities.
- Which parent has been the primary caretaker.
The court takes these factors into consideration when determining the most suitable custody arrangement for the child. In cases where parents can come to an agreement without resorting to court proceedings, these factors serve as valuable guidelines when formulating a parenting plan.
Child Relocation is a Serious Issue
If you have sole custody of the child, you do not have the right to relocate them. You must inform the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may decide to consent to the move and work with you to establish a new visitation schedule. The non-custodial parent may also address the issue with family court and tell the judge that they do not want you to relocate the child. Regardless of how custody was arranged, talk with a Doylestown child custody lawyer before you move away with your child.
Common Questions about Child Custody in Doylestown
Our award-winning attorneys have decades of combined experience handling custody cases around Doylestown, PA. To help keep you informed on the child custody process, we have answered some of the frequently asked questions below.
Can I change my existing child custody order?
Yes, custody orders can be modified in court if there has been a significant change in you or your co-parent’s life, such that your existing order no longer meets the needs of you or your children. We can help you determine if you qualify for a modification, as well as walk you through the legal process.
Can a child choose in a Doylestown custody case?
A child’s preference to live with one parent may be taken into consideration, depending on the age of the child. The closer the child is to 18 years, the more weight the court will give to the child’s wishes. However, the court will look closely at the reasons why the child prefers to live with the other parent.
How does the law determine an unfit parent?
If a parent has a proven record of abuse in the form of police reports, doctor’s or psychiatrist’s reports, or Bucks County Child Welfare reports, this can render the parent unfit. In addition to losing custody, they may be barred from contacting the child or the co-parent through a restraining order.
Is Pennsylvania a mother state in matters custody resolution?
No. Neither parent has a better chance of getting custody in Pennsylvania, which means that a father can get custody. Child custody are typically decided on a case-by-case basis.
Can a custodial parent refuse visitation in Doylestown?
A noncustodial parent has a right to visit and spend time with his or her child, unless visitation is deemed to not be in the best interests of the child. It is therefore illegal to deny visitation rights without court approval. Violation of this code can be considered contempt of court.
Bringing Clarity Out of Chaos: That’s Our Commitment at Petrelli Previtera
Our Doylestown child custody lawyers understand the stress you feel and how devastating the thought of giving up time with your children may be for you. You can count on our compassionate and experienced Pennsylvania family law firm to bring clarity out of your chaos and strive to get you the best possible results. Whether you must decide how to approach custody in your divorce, are an unmarried parent with a need to protect your parental rights, or want to pursue a post-divorce modification, we can provide the counsel and advocacy you need, beginning with a phone consultation. Contact us today at (267) 938-4480 to get the answers to any and all custody questions you might have.