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.
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 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.
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.