Custody arrangements can vary greatly depending on the relationship between the child’s parents. Each family’s unique situation will affect the process of determining custody and the outcome of agreement.
A judge can award either sole or joint custody in a child’s best interest.
A parent with sole custody is known as the custodial parent, and he or she alone holds the child’s physical and legal rights. The non-custodial parent, meaning the parent without custody, maintains a parent-child relationship through visitation rights.
Parents awarded joint custody share the decision-making responsibilities and physical control of their children. Also called shared custody, joint custody could come in the form of a parenting agreement between the parents or a court order.
Determining the Child’s Best Interest
When establishing a custody arrangement, each court uses its own list of considerations to determine the best interest of a child. The factors vary from state to state, but some common ones include:
- The relationships between the child and parents, siblings, family and household members, and/or other caregivers
- The ability of the parents to provide the child with a safe home as well as adequate food, clothing, and medical care
- The mental and physical health needs of the child
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The history or presence of domestic violence in the home
These factors help the court determine the best custody arrangement for the child. For parents who can reach an agreement without going to court, these factors are helpful when developing a parenting plan.
How We Can Help
The attorneys at Petrelli Previtera, LLC offer full support for parents going through a divorce or separation. Our legal assistance and representation can start with divorce and continue through establishing a durable custody schedule and any needed modifications. When assisting with a custody agreement, our firm’s focus is always on the best interest of the child.
Depending on your family’s individual situation, reaching a custody agreement may or may not require appearing before a judge. If a court hearing is necessary, as your attorneys we will advocate for your custody or visitation rights. We can also help you and the other parent develop a parenting plan without going to court.
Common Questions about Child Custody in PA
Determining which parent gets custody of the children is one of the most overwhelming facets of divorce. As lawyers focusing on family law, we have answered hundreds of questions about Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws and procedures regarding child support and child custody. Below are a few of the most common questions.
When a parent is granted sole custody by the court, he or she is known as the custodial parent and has all legal and decision-making responsibilities and physical control of the child. The other parent, called non-custodial parent, maintains a relationship with the child through specified visitation rights.
On the other hand, joint custody means the separated parents share the responsibilities and/or physical control of the child. Joint custody is advantageous for the child because of the regular, continued contact and involvement with both parents. Each family is different, so the terms outlined in the agreement will vary from family to family. The objective is always to arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
Divorcing parents have the opportunity to discuss the terms and reach an agreement regarding child custody. If they are unable to agree on these terms, the court will impose an arrangement based on what it deems is best for the child.
Parents can modify a court order to change custody, visitation, or other rights. For example, a modification may be necessary if one parent plans to relocate or is temporarily unable to care for the child. It’s very important to take the proper legal steps to modify an order. Read more about modifying court orders.
Many states define relocation as moving a child to a new home in a location that makes it difficult for the other parent to visit the child per the custody agreement. In some cases, both parents agree to the relocation and make minor alterations to the parenting plan. In other cases, the court must determine what is best for the child. Read more about relocation.
Parents can develop a parenting plan with the help of their attorneys. If they can agree on what to do in the best interest of the child, there is usually no need to appear before a judge.
When the court must step in and come up with the custody terms, it will determine if one parent is unfit to share custody. Factors to be considered include a parent’s living situation, past alcohol or drug use and history of abuse or neglect.
When joint custody is awarded, the children have continued contact and involvement with both parents. The burden of single parenting is also alleviated when the child is with the other parent. On the other hand, the children must adhere to a regimented schedule per the joint custody agreement. Read more about joint custody.
While our offices are located in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, our attorneys can also assist parents who are outside of the area. Please contact our firm for more details.
There are two types of custody that need to be determined for children whose parents are divorcing; physical and legal. Physical custody is the right to have your child live with you and involves the day-to-day care of the child. If a child primarily lives with one parent, that parent is considered the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent could be awarded visitation rights to see the child.
Legal custody is quite different than physical custody as it provides one parent the right and obligation to be the decision-maker for the child. The parent with legal custody will be the one to make decisions about where the child goes to school, their medical care, and what religion they will be raised to follow. In many custody cases, the parents are awarded joint legal custody, unless one of the parents is determined to be incapable of taking care of or making sound decisions for the child.
Whatever your custody goals are, we are here to help. Your attorney could review your current life circumstances to help you negotiate a custody settlement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and, if necessary, could bring the information before a judge to help them side with you.
Contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC for Assistance
Determining custody can be one of the most stressful aspects of divorce and separation. To reach your goals quickly and efficiently, you need the right information from day one. Contact Petrelli Previtera, LLC to schedule a consultation. We can answer your questions, help you get started, and ensure you are as informed as possible throughout the process.