Every parent in Pennsylvania has some degree of responsibility to their children, and they also have certain rights under state laws. Yet, many people never learn about the custody laws in Pennsylvania until there is some kind of conflict that impacts their families.
When a married couple decides to divorce or unmarried parents break up, they generally have to figure out a way to share custody. Negotiating a workable arrangement for a family is often easier when the parents understand the basics of Pennsylvania custody laws.
What rules influence custody decisions?
The main guiding factor in any contested custody matter in Pennsylvania is the best interests of the children. To establish those best interests, judges will consider factors including the age of the children, the health and occupation of the parents, the relationship each parent has with the children and even the child’s wishes.
In most cases, judges give parents shared custody of the children, with each adult having a certain amount of parenting time with the children. Occasionally, one parent will have significantly more time with the children than the other. In scenarios involving abuse or serious safety concerns, there may supervised visitation only may be ordered for one parent. Both parents will need to follow the custody order entered by the judge, although it is possible to go back to court and request a modification to change the order if a family’s circumstances significantly change. Parents can also request enforcement help when their co-parent won’t comply with the order.
Parents don’t have to litigate custody matters
Many parents who need to put together custody orders and parenting plans in Pennsylvania are able to settle their custody matters on their own. After a thorough discussions with their attorneys – or possibly mediation – these parents reach their own solutions concerning division of parenting time and other responsibilities for their children.
When parents reach their own settlement in re: custody matters, a family law judge will typically still need to approve and finalize their custody order, but the parents will have much more say in the final terms set in that order. Parents who understand the basic rules that influence custody matters in Pennsylvania will be in a better position to cooperate with one another or prepare for family court. Reviewing one’s household circumstances with an attorney may help a parent to better evaluate possible solutions for custody of their children.