As if January 2011, Act 112 of 2010 has been put into effect. This law states the following:
"It is public policy of this Commonwealth, when in the best interest of the child, to assure a reasonable and continuing contact of the child with both parents after a separation or dissolution of the marriage and the sharing of the rights and responsibilities of child rearing by both parents and continuing contact of the child or children with grandparents when a parent is deceased, divorced or separated.”
Yet, a dispute over child custody may be one of the most important events you will ever face as a parent. Child custody is one of the most important family law issues and is typically very emotionally charged. As a parent, you want the best for your child or children, which includes safety, care and a nurturing environment. Preferences about your children’s education, sports and after-school opportunities, supervising friends, and things like their eating habits rest on your mind. And many more.
End your worrying about child custody! We will listen to you, answer any of your questions, guide you through the entire custody process and commit to keeping you informed of what is in your best interests when you simultaneously attempt to address the best interests of your children.
Pennsylvania courts will make their decisions based on what is in the best interests and welfare of the children. We show you and further guide you through the process so that you can stay aligned with that overriding principle; so that you can preserve your children’s best interests, without entering into unnecessary emotional conflict, or dismissing what is in your best interest as a parent.
The two basic forms of custody in Pennsylvania are legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody is the ability to make your children’s important life decisions, shared with the other parent or exclusively, for your children; including decisions involving schools, doctors, religious practices and churches, and extracurricular activities. Legal custody is most often shared. This means that both parties are entitled to share the decision-making process and to receive information about their children. Preserving your rights and your access to information is a matter where parents to be diligent and active participants in their children’s long-term direction.
Physical custody determines which parent or guardian physically cares for the children and whether there is a schedule and a method of exchange between the parties of the children. Since days of custody are really counted by viewing the time the children spend overnights. If the parties have an equal number of overnight, custody is assessed. If overnights are equal, then the parties have shared physical. Reducing custody to an agreement, supported by a court order, is usually a good idea in order to reduce conflict and misunderstanding between the parties
A custody order can be entered through agreement of the parties (a “consent” order) or through a litigation. A custody order is presented to a judge for approval and then it is filed in the records of the court
Custody orders memorialize: (a) legal custody; (b) a physical custody schedule; (c) a holiday custody schedule; (d) a vacation custody schedule; (e) methods of exchange between the parties of the children transportation; (f) telephone/facetime contact; and (g) the procedure for handling unexpected events, such as emergencies.
It is vital that you have an experienced and skilled attorney draft your custody order. A properly drafted custody order can preclude needless custody fights and costly litigation for a litany of issues.
Factors that often affect child custody include:
Who has been the primary caregiver for the children or child?
The child's relationship with each parent
The child's preference if old enough to form an opinion
Financial status of each parent
Age and number of children
How to stabilize the child's school and social life
Which parent encourages ease for custody as opposed to being a parent who is contemptuous?
Over the course of parenting, these factors change in the years following a divorce, it may be necessary to seek a Custody Modification. These modifications can be petitioned through the courts or occur through agreements between the parties.
If you are involved in a custody issue that requires litigation, it is important that you are represented by a capable family law attorney in Pittsburgh who is experienced with this type of litigation.