Child Custody in Blair County

There are few legal issues that can be as personally difficult and stressful as determining child custody. Even in an amicable divorce or separation where the individuals agree on a plan for the children, it's still up to a judge to create a formal order that makes the plan official. In Blair County, child custody cases are handled by the Blair County Custody Office in Hollidaysburg.

It's important to have proper representation in any custody matter, and the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team is ready to help. Representation is vital even if there is no dispute over custody terms. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation and learn how we can help resolve child custody cases in Blair County, Pennsylvania.

Where Are Child Custody Cases Heard in Blair County?

The Blair County Custody Office is located on the third floor of the Blair County Courthouse at 423 Allegheny Street, Hollidaysburg. It is Suite 327, housed in the new addition to the courthouse. The Custody Office is where all custody processes are handled, dealing with the physical and legal custody of minors between parents, grandparents, and third parties. Issues of support are handled elsewhere. If you have a child custody matter filed in Blair County and need to appear in court for that matter, this is where your matter will be heard.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

There are two distinct types of child custody: Physical custody and legal custody. They are not necessarily connected—a parent or guardian with legal custody of the child may not always be the primary physical custodian. Here's how these two types of custody are defined:

  • Physical custody determines who is responsible for the child's daily care. This includes providing food, clothing, and shelter, getting the child to and from school and other activities, ensuring the child has regular doctor and dentist appointments, and otherwise taking care of the child's physical needs. Physical custody can be shared between parents and/or guardians, or it can be awarded primarily to one adult. In some cases where one parent is incapable of providing proper care, sole custody may be awarded entirely to the other parent or a legal guardian. In these situations, the other parent may only be allowed limited visits with the child, and these visits may be supervised by a court-appointed agency or monitor.
  • Legal custody determines who has the legal authority to decide on matters regarding the child's care and upbringing. This could include where the child will attend school, what religion the child will practice, and/or what types of medical treatment they'll receive. Often, legal custody will be shared between both parents even if only one parent is awarded primary physical custody. In cases where parents with shared legal custody can't come to an agreement on the child's care, issues can be submitted to the court for a judge to decide. It's also possible that the court will award legal custody to one parent, who may not be the same parent with primary physical custody.

What Are the Requirements to Be Able to Seek Custody of a Child in Blair County?

In general, a child must have been living in Blair County for the past six months in order to qualify for a custody case within the county.

Parents or guardians seeking full custody, partial custody, or visitation rights in Blair County must complete the custody education program "Children First." This program is presented by the Altoona Hospital Drug and Alcohol Services and includes a fee of $40 per participant. Parties involved in a custody case will be scheduled for separate sessions of the Children First program. Failure to pay the fee or appear for the program could result in the dismissal of the custody case or even result in contempt proceedings.

Pennsylvania law requires the judge in all child custody cases to enter their orders based on the child's best interests. Sometimes, this means the judge may not agree with or approve of a custody proposal that both the child's parents or guardians have already agreed to. The judge has the power to change custody terms in these instances, superseding the plans put in place by the parents or guardians. That's why it's so important to work with an experienced attorney from the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team in any custody case. In cases where both parties agree to custody terms, we can help you make sure that a court is likely to accept the terms you and the other party put forward.

What Is the Procedure Used to Resolve Child Custody Cases in Blair County?

Generally, the first step in a child custody case in Blair County involves filing a verified complaint and scheduling order. This complaint will outline the general request for custody, partial custody, or visitation. This is done through the Blair County Custody Office.

After filing this complaint, the parties involved and/or their legal counsel attend an intake conference conducted by the Intake Officer or other designated individual. This marks the beginning of the Custody Conciliation Process. The goal of this intake conference is to help the parties identify areas of agreement and disagreement regarding the child's custody plan and to begin developing a parenting plan that best suits them and their children. In cases where an agreement is not reached, a conciliation conference may be scheduled with a Custody Conciliator who will use mediation skills and techniques to actively engage the parties in reaching a custody agreement.

If an agreement cannot be reached through conciliation, the next step is the Custody Litigation Process involving an evidentiary hearing. This begins with a pre-hearing conference to prepare for the trial, during which contested issues, witnesses, exhibits, and other relevant matters are discussed. The trial may then proceed before a judge. Evidence and testimony will be presented, and a final child custody order will be issued.

Overall, the Blair County child custody process places a high value on early intervention and attempts to facilitate agreements between the contesting parties. However, the court is ready to step in if and when agreements cannot be reached. Parties in a custody case may file motions for special relief if there are urgent issues related to the child's safety or well-being. These motions are screened and may be scheduled for oral argument without a hearing.

Having qualified legal counsel will make this process far easier to navigate. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has helped in many child custody matters in Blair County and all across Pennsylvania. We know how important these cases are, and we're ready to help you protect your rights and secure an outcome favoring your child's best interests.

What if I Disagree with the Terms of a Child Custody Order in Blair County?

If you disagree with the terms of a child custody order in Blair County, you have a few options at your disposal.

You could file a Petition for Modification. If circumstances have changed significantly since the custody order was issued, you may file a petition with the court to modify the terms of the arrangement. This would be appropriate if there were significant changes in the child's needs if you or the other custodial party were relocating, or if there were other major changes in circumstances.

You could also request a Review Hearing. In some cases, the court may schedule a review hearing to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing custody order and address any concerns. You could present evidence and arguments to support your request for modification during this hearing.

If your case was decided by a judge, you could file an appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which is located at 530 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. This must be done within 30 days of when the custody order was issued, whether or not a motion for reconsideration has been filed.

While seeking modifications to your custody plan, it's crucial to continue complying with the existing order to avoid potential legal consequences. Failure to comply with court orders could result in contempt proceedings or other sanctions.

If you disagree with a child custody order that has been issued, or if the other party to the case is challenging an order that you agree with, The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help. We're well experienced with the laws and procedures of custody cases, and we can advise you based on your particular case details.

What Happens if My Ex Violates the Child Custody Order in Blair County?

Violating a custody order is a serious matter. Keep detailed records of any instances where your ex fails to comply with the order, noting dates, times, and specific details. This includes missed visitations and unauthorized changes to the custody schedule. These records will be key to any potential legal actions you may take.

If possible, attempt to resolve these violations amicably and reach a mutually acceptable solution. Remember to keep the child's best interests at the forefront of these discussions and to make sure that you aren't changing or breaching any terms put forth by the custody order.

If the violations keep occurring, or if an amicable resolution can't be reached, it may be necessary to take legal action. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can advise you in these situations and help you create a plan for protecting your child's best interests.

What if I Want to Change the Terms of a Custody Order in Blair County?

It makes sense that the terms of a custody order would change as the child's needs change or if the parents' situation changes. However, it is important that any changes to these terms are made official by the Blair County Custody Office. Otherwise, you may suddenly find yourself facing legal action from the other parent or guardian or even facing contempt charges from the court.

If you and the other party agree to make changes to the terms, but these changes are not reviewed and approved by the Custody Office, you would both technically be in violation of the custody order. If the other party suddenly changed their mind and wanted to go back to the original agreement, you'd have no legal ground to stand on.

Similarly, if the court found out that you weren't following its orders, you could face charges of contempt. These could even wind up impacting your custody ruling.

That's why it's vital that any desired changes by either parent or guardian are approved by the Custody Office.

If you wish to change the terms of an existing child custody order, the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help. From ensuring your request is properly filed to representing your interests in any proceedings. Similarly, we're ready to help you stand your ground if the other parent or guardian is seeking changes to the custody order that you disagree with.

How the LLF Law Firm Can Help You With Custody Issues in Blair County

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has years of experience representing parents in child custody cases throughout Pennsylvania, including Blair County. We will help you gather the information you need to make your case successful, and we'll fight relentlessly to protect your rights as a parent and preserve your child's best interests.

We have a proven track record of helping our clients in child custody cases, whether there's been a dispute about terms or an accusation of a violation. We're experienced in helping parties come to agreements on terms and in crafting custody agreements that are acceptable to both parties, as well as the Blair County Custody Office officials.

If you are faced with a child custody issue in Blair County, call the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team today at 888.535.3686 or contact us using our online form. We'll set up a confidential consultation to help secure your child's future.

Contact a skilled Family Law Team Today!

The LLF Law Firm has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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