Child Custody in Fayette County

Divorce is already pretty complicated. Child custody is just adding another wrinkle to an already complex situation. Even if the couple agrees on how exactly they want to proceed when it comes to custody, a judge still has to review any agreement, so that means the process is never simple. In Fayette County, child custody cases are overseen by the Court of Common Pleas, specifically the Fayette County Prothonotary's Office. The County, however, does have a Child Custody Services Office, which conducts mediations and hearings.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help guide you through a child custody case in Fayette County, whether you and the other party are in agreement or not. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or fill out our contact form to set up a fully confidential consultation.

Where Are Child Custody Cases Heard in Fayette County?

The Child Custody Services Offices in Fayette County is located in the Fayette County Courthouse, on 61E Main Street, Third Floor, Uniontown, Pennsylvania. The Child Custody Services Office conducts mediations and hearings regarding legal and physical custody of minor children, but it is not a filing office. Complaints, motions, and other documents need to be filed with the Prothonotary or the Court Administrator's Office.

The Court Administrator's Office is also located on the third floor of the same building. The Prothonotary, meanwhile, is located on the first floor.

In Fayette County, as in the entirety of Pennsylvania, the Court of Common Pleas, which handles child custody issues, also handles divorce, child and spousal support claims, as well as domestic violence allegations.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

A custody agreement needs to take into account the two types of child custody: Physical custody and legal custody. This is particularly important as parents seek to define who will be taking care of the needs of their child in specific circumstances and what each parent needs to do.

  • Physical custody makes reference to the basic day-to-day needs of the child, including who will provide food and shelter for the child. However, physical custody doesn't end when the basic needs are met because this type of custody also extends to making sure the child attends school and can attend other after-school activities or meet with friends. Physical custody can either be awarded to one parent or shared, with both parents splitting the time and attempting to care for the child's basic needs equally. If the physical custody is awarded to just one parent, the other parent can be restricted to visits, either supervised or not.
  • Legal custody makes reference to the bigger questions about the child's life, not the basic needs. This includes everything from what school the child will attend, what doctors it will see, or what religion the child will practice. In many cases, these kinds of decisions will be made by both parents together, but a court can award legal custody to just one parent, giving them the final decision. A court can also award one parent legal custody and the other parent physical custody if it considers that it is in the best interest of the child.

What are the requirements for seeking custody of a child in Fayette County?

The requirements for seeking custody of a child in Fayette County are pretty standard in regard to what the requirements are in the rest of Pennsylvania. As long as the child has lived in Fayette County for at least six months, a case can be filed in Fayette County. A special exception can also be made if the child is a newborn or if the case involves child abuse or abandonment of the child, a parent, or a sibling.

In Fayette County, the Courts can also be petitioned to handle your case if you have a custody order from another state.

However, not everyone can bring forward a custody case. Such cases require a close connection with the child, such as that from parents or grandparents. It is only in very rare cases that the courts will consider someone other than close relatives in a custody case, but if there is a close connection to the child and the person petitioning has already assumed parental responsibilities, the courts might take this into consideration.

What is the Procedure Used to Resolve Child Custody Cases in Fayette County?

A child custody case usually starts with a complaint, and in Fayette County, there are two different forms to be filled out depending on whether the complaint is being made by one of the parents, the grandparents, or third parties.

Parties must also fill out a Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification Form and an Order of Court Form and file them at the Fayette County Prothonotary's Office and make one copy of the forms to be delivered to the Administrative Office of Fayette County Courts. The purpose of this is to have the party who is making the complaint serve the defendants with the custody complaint.

For the process to continue, however, the party making the complaint has to either request a Child Custody Meditation Conference at that point or deliver a custody agreement that all parties have agreed on.

If the Child Custody Mediation Conference is requested, notice will be mailed to the parties with the scheduled date and time. If the parties can agree on terms during the hearing, the court will then review the agreement and decide if the terms are indeed in the best interest of the child.

An agreement doesn't always guarantee that the terms will be accepted. The LLF Law Firm Family Team can help ensure that whatever agreement you reach is one that will not only look out for your best interests and that of your child but will satisfy the courts.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the next step is to go directly to a judge. At this hearing, both parties can present whatever evidence they consider necessary to support their proposed custody arrangement, and the judge will take all evidence into account as it considers what is best for the child. Then, the judge will issue a child custody order.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has helped multiple clients with child custody matters in Fayette County and across Pennsylvania. Our team can be there with you every step of the way and advise you on the best way to secure the best custody agreement, not just for your child, but for you.

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

Just because a judge issues a child custody order doesn't mean you have to agree with it. And if you disagree, what are your options? You don't necessarily have to just go with it because a judge said so. In fact, there are always options when you disagree with a decision a judge has made. The two most common ones are a reconsideration or an appeal before a superior court.

A reconsideration, just as the name implies, is basically asking the judge to look at the case again and reconsider their decision. An appeal, on the other hand, asks a different court to look at the decision this particular judge made and determine if the judge made the correct decision or not. In Pennsylvania, the designated superior court is the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which is located at 530 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Appeals have to be filed at most 30 days from the date the judge issued the order.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team understands how taxing and stressful child custody matters are and how much of an extra burden they are after a separation or divorce. Our team is prepared to help you navigate Pennsylvania custody laws and Fayette County procedures so you are never caught off guard. We'll work with you to prepare the best strategy that takes into account the well-being of your child but also what you need.

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

Violating the terms of a child custody order is a very serious matter, which could have serious consequences for the parent in violation. If one parent violates the order, the other parent can file a "Petition for Contempt," which will result in the offending party being held in contempt.

Depending on the severity of the offense or how many repeated offenses there have been, the other party can be forced to pay a fine or, in some cases, even be imprisoned. Recurring violations can also be a reason to petition the court to revise the child custody order to make sure these violations stop happening.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has ample experience with contempt petitions, and we will not just support you but also do our best to advise you in your fight for what is best for you and your child. Our team can help you file and prepare against a contempt petition brought in Fayette County.

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

Since a child custody order is a legal agreement that establishes the rules for how parents take care of their children, any changes to them have to be approved by a judge, not just in Fayette County but in Pennsylvania in general.

This is done to protect the child, first and foremost, which is the court's main concern. The court considers that the parents – as adults – can look out for their best interests, but the children cannot, which is why the court appoints itself as the one who will look out for what is best for the children.

That means that if either party is looking to make a change to a child custody order, they must file a motion in the Fayette County Prothonotary's Office. The judge will then review the reasons behind the request and decide if a change is in the child's best interest or if the child custody order must remain as is.

Either party can request a change, and both can do it together. The judge can decide that, in order to make a determination, a hearing is required, but the decision can also be made without hearing from the parties. The judge can also decide something different than what the parties request if it considers that a compromise is in the best interest of the child.

All of these possibilities mean it's hard to really prepare for what to expect when it comes to the modification of a custody order. Our experienced team at the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team understands the standards judges will apply and can be your best ally if you want to change them or disagree with a request from the other party. Never be caught unaware or let the process confuse you. We can help you stay one step ahead of the curve.

How the LLF Law Firm Can Help You with Custody Issues in Fayette County

The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team knows that child custody cases are complicated, not just for the parents but for the children as well. Our team has many years of experience helping families navigate the process and feel secure in the decisions they make.

We will guide you in every step of the process and make sure you not only know what is happening at every point but also that both you and your child are secure in the decisions that you are making and that those decisions are made prioritizing their well-being.

Whether you need to file a complaint for custody, are curious about what the best options for your child actually are, want to negotiate an agreement and want us to advise you on what the best options for one are, want to make changes to an existing one, need to enforce an existing custody agreement or have to defend yourself against accusations of violating a custody agreement, the LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team is here for you to help you with all your needs.

Child custody disputes are always complex, but they can feel much simpler when you know you have the right partner by your side. The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team can be your perfect ally to handle disagreements, but it can also be there to help you reach a custody agreement that benefits everyone if that is what you seek.

If you're facing a child custody issue in Fayette County, contact the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team today. Let our team guide you through the process and advocate for your interests and your child's well-being. Schedule a consultation at 888.535.3686, or fill out our contact form, and we will reach out. You and your child deserve the peace of mind that having the right team by your side can bring.

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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