What You Need to Know About Child Custody
Child custody cases are often extremely difficult, and they can be quite contentious. Courts in Pennsylvania, as in many other states, rely on the “best interests of the child” standard when determining what type of child custody arrangement is appropriate. If you need assistance with your child custody case, you should seek assistance from an experienced Philadelphia child custody attorney.
Types of Child Custody in Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia courts award both legal and physical custody to parents in a child custody case. In many situations, child custody cases will arise out of a divorce in which there are minor children from the marriage. Yet child custody cases can also come up when unmarried parents decide to break up, or in situations where a biological parent comes forward to seek parental rights. Here is how Pennsylvania law defines the different types of child custody in the state:
- Sole legal custody, in which only one parent has exclusive legal custody of the child, and the “right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical religious, and educational decisions”;
- Shared legal custody, in which both parents share legal custody of the child and both share the rights outlined above;
- Sole physical custody, in which only one parent has exclusive physical custody of the child, which involves the “actual physical possession and control of a child”; and
- Shared physical custody, in which both parents “assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.”
Pennsylvania law also uses the term “partial physical custody,” which refers to a situation in which one parent or one part has a “right to assume physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.”
Factors for Determining Child Custody in Philadelphia
Courts can take into account a wide variety of factors when determining what is in the best interest of the child for purposes of awarding child custody. Pennsylvania law makes clear that the court should consider all relevant factors and should give particular weight to any factors that concern the child’s safety. Examples of some of the factors a court will consider include but are not limited to:
- Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent;
- History of child abuse or domestic violence
- Child’s relationship with siblings;
- Child’s preference in situations where the child can articulate a well-reasoned preference based on the child’s maturity and judgment;
- Likelihood of the parents to attend to the child’s daily caretaking needs;
- Proximity of the parents’ residences;
- Level of conflict that currently exists between the parents;
- History of alcohol or drug abuse by either of the parents; and
- Mental and physical health of the parties.
There are numerous other factors that the court may consider that are specifically enumerated in the statute, and the court can also consider any other relevant factors that are not listed.
Contact a Child Custody Attorney in Philadelphia, PA
When you are facing a child custody case, it is essential to have an experienced Philadelphia child custody attorney on your side.