Written By: Brandy Miller | July 1, 2016 | No Comments
Child custody cases are decided in Pennsylvania, above all, on the premise that the courts act in the best interests of the child or children involved. Usually, child custody cases begin with a petition for child custody. These petitions can occur as part of the divorce, as part of child support petitions or separately.
Once a child custody action is filed, a party may file an interim custody motion, which is a temporary order deciding on child custody while the case is working its way through the courts. The motion will determine who will have custody before a decision is made and can prevent one parent from moving children out of state or out of the country.
Types of Custody
In a child custody action, both physical custody and legal custody are decided. Physical custody refers to who the child will spend time with and where the child will live. Shared physical custody means a child will spend part of their time with one parent and part of their time with another. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the parent who will have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child — decisions about schooling, medical care and so forth. Legal custody can be assigned to one parent or may be shared.
Many factors go into determining child custody, including:
- The best interests of the child
- The child’s preferences (if the child is mature and old enough to state a preference)
- Past accusations of abuse
- Current child care arrangements
- Work schedules
- Which parent has been most active in caring for the child
Who Decides on Custody?
In cases where parents agree on custody agreements, the court will generally permit the parents’ custody agreement. In cases where parents cannot agree, a court may request parents to attend mediation or educational sessions. If no agreement can be reached, a court will determine custody, based on the best interest of the child and the factors listed above.
The Implications of Custody
Child custody can affect many things, including a parent’s relationship with their child, child support and more. It is important to advocate strongly on behalf of yourself and your child in custody negotiations. You want your child to have the best chance at a bright future and a good relationship with both parents. You also want child support you are owed, or you want to pay the right level of child support for your situation — and custody can influence the amount of financial support ordered.
Gender isn’t taken into consideration in child custody cases. However, due to traditional ideas about childcare and household arrangements, mothers often are the primary caregivers for children in the home, making it harder for fathers to argue for full custody of their children.
If you’re concerned about securing custody and about the custody arrangements in your case, contact Miller Law Group for a consultation. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience helping families in Berks County and surrounding counties. From our offices in Reading, Pennsylvania, we’re happy to be able to treat our clients with the utmost of care and attention. Contact us today to discuss your situation with us.