Child Custody in Lackawanna County

Child custody is one of the most complicated issues facing a couple separating or divorcing. Even when the separation is amicable and the couple is on the same page regarding the details of what should happen to the children, the process isn't always straightforward because a judge has to review any agreement before it can be enforced. In Lackawanna County, child custody cases are overseen by the Court of Common Pleas Domestic Relations court, which is also known as Family Court. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can advise you in any child custody case in Lackawanna County child custody cases, whether there is controversy about custody terms or not. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or fill out the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team's contact form to set up a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Where Are Child Custody Cases Heard in Lackawanna County?

Lackawanna County Family Court is located at 123 Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, Pennsylvania. That's where judges and courtrooms can be found and where petitions and complaints are filed. It's also where you will need to go if you need to appear in front of the court for a child custody matter in Lackawanna County.

Family Courts handle child custody matters, but they also handle divorce, child and spousal support claims and domestic violence allegations.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

A child custody agreement needs to differentiate between two types of child custody: Physical custody and legal custody. The agreement also needs to establish if the custody applies to one parent (sole) or both (joint).

  • Physical custody has to do with the day-to-day care of the child when it comes to necessities like food and shelter, as well as making sure the child gets to school and any other activities – including playdates and even doctor's appointments. Physical custody can rest solely on one parent, with the other one allowed only restricted visits, which can be supervised or not, depending on the circumstances of the agreement, or it can be shared, with parents splitting time with the child.
  • Legal custody has to do with who makes important decisions about the child's upbringing, and the arrangement must establish who makes these determinations. These decisions can range from what school the child will attend, what religion it will practice, or even medical decisions, large or small. In many cases, parents will make all of these determinations together, but the court can also award legal custody to just one parent, even if it's not the parent who has physical custody.

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

In most cases, a child must have lived in Lackawanna County for at least six months before a custody case can be filed before the Family Court. However, there are important exceptions. This residency requirement, for example, doesn't apply to newborns or cases involving child abuse or abandonment of the child, a parent, or a sibling.

The court might also handle your case if you already have a custody order from another state.

Not everyone can bring forward a custody case. The most common custody cases come from parents or grandparents, but in rare cases, someone who has assumed parental responsibilities and has a long-standing interest in the child's welfare might petition for custody.

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

For most child custody cases in Lackawanna County, the first step is filing a "Complaint for Custody" with the Family Court that will detail the desired custody arrangement. This is the beginning of the process. If the situation is cordial, then you can wait for the next steps. If, however, the child is in immediate danger, it is possible to file a "Petition for Emergency Relief." These types of petitions are typically reviewed and decided within a day.

For non-emergency situations that, nonetheless, require a quick response, a "Petition for Expedited Relief" will result in a quicker response from the court than a standard complaint.

In cases where no emergency or expedited relief is requested, the process begins with a conference with a custody hearing officer. Both parents will be notified of the date and time of the hearing and in what room of the Family Court it will be held. Then, the Hearing Office will meet with both parties. The purpose of this meeting is for both parents to agree on terms for child custody. If there is one, the court will then review the terms and decide if those terms are in the best interest of the child. Working with an experienced attorney from the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team will ensure that, even in a situation where both parties agree on custody terms, the final agreement takes into account everything the judge might be looking at when making their final determination.

If there's no agreement, the matter will then be left to the judge to decide. In some cases, the judge might suggest the parties use the service of a trained third party – a mediator – to try to reach an agreement. However, if there's still no agreement after that, a hearing will be held, either before the Hearing Officer or before the judge.

During a hearing, both parents can present evidence, be it witnesses or documents, to support their proposed custody arrangements. The judge or Hearing Officer will focus on what is best for the child, with the goal of creating a fair and stable living situation.

If the case is heard by a Hearing Officer, they will issue a recommended custody order that the judge can then sign as a formal child custody order.

No matter how the child custody case unfolds, be it whether the parties agree on the terms beforehand, whether the Hearing officer suggests an arrangement, or whether the hearing is before a judge who makes the final decision, the end result will always be a child custody order issued by a Family Court judge.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has advised many clients with child custody matters in Lackawanna County and across Pennsylvania. Our experienced team can help you secure a fair custody agreement that protects your rights and, at the same time, prioritizes your child's best interests.

What if I Disagree With the Terms of a Child Custody Order in Lackawanna County?

If a Hearing Officer, not a judge, decides your child custody case, you have 20 days to file what's called an objection to the proposed order. In this objection, you must explain why you disagree with the Hearing Officer's terms. A judge will then review your objection and hold a hearing to rule on the exception. In this hearing, both parties can present their argument about the proposed terms, both in favor or against.

If it was the judge who made the decision, there are also options in case you disagree with the final ruling: a reconsideration or an appeal. A motion for reconsideration allows the judge to review the case again and reconsider his decision. An appeal, meanwhile, is seen by a different court altogether, which likewise looks at all the information in the case and decides if the judge has made the wrong decision. In this case, the court looking over the judge's decision would be the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which is located at 530 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. The deadline to file an appeal is 30 days from the date the judge issues the order.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team understands child custody cases are complex and stressful. Whether you disagree with an existing order or the other party is challenging one in your favor, our experienced attorneys can help you navigate Pennsylvania custody laws and Lackawanna County procedures. We'll work with you to develop a strategy based on your specific situation and fight for what's best for your child.

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

Child Custody orders issued by the Lackawanna County Family Court are legally binding documents, which means violating their terms can have very serious consequences. If one parent violates the order, the other parent can file a "Petition for Contempt" with the Family Court, causing the other party to be held in contempt and be forced to pay a fine or even be imprisoned.

If these violations happen often, one party can even ask the court to revise the order to make violations less likely. Clear examples of this are cases when one parent refuses to return a child according to the custody schedule set by the court or a situation where a parent is putting their interests above a child's welfare.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has ample experience with contempt petitions in family court matters and will always strive for the best outcome for you and your child. Our attorneys can guide you in filing or preparing against a contempt petition brought in Lackawanna County Family Court.

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

Since child custody orders are legal agreements established by a judge that outline how each parent cares for their child, any changes to them need to also be made by a judge. This is true even if both parents agree to the changes.

The reasoning behind this is to protect not just both parents but especially the child, as the court is meant to put the child's well-being above everything. Following the court-ordered custody plan is important. If either parent disregards the order without the judge's approval, they could be held in contempt of court.

If either of the parties wants to make changes to a child custody order, the proper way to do so is to file a motion with the Family Court in Lackawanna to modify the order. The judge can then review the reasons for the request and decide if the modification is truly in the child's best interest.

This type of request can be done by both parties or only one. If the judge considers it necessary, they can hold a hearing to hear from both parties and then decide whether to grant or deny the requested modifications or make some other change to the child custody order as a compromise.

The experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team understand the standards that judges in Lackawanna County follow when deciding custody order modification motions. We can advise you if you are looking to change the existing order or if you don't agree that a requested modification is what your child needs.

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

The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team is very familiar with the complexities of child custody cases in Lackawanna County. We have extensive experience helping parents not just navigate the situations but feel comfortable with the process.

We'll work closely with you to help you gather evidence to build a strong case that ensures your rights are protected while making your child's well-being a priority.

Our team is here to guide you and represent you through the entire process, whether you need to file a complaint for custody, enforce existing custody terms, request a change to the agreement, or defend yourself against accusations of violating the agreement.

Child custody disputes can be a stressful time for all parties involved. The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team is perfectly qualified to handle disagreements, but our main goal is to help parents reach a custody agreement that benefits everyone and that results in an environment that causes the least amount of disruption to the new family unit – all while aligning to court standards.

If you're facing a child custody issue in Lackawanna County, contact the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team today. Let our team guide you through the process and advocate for your child's well-being. Schedule a confidential consultation at 888.535.3686, or reach out through our contact form. Your child deserves the best, and we're here to help you make sure you can provide it.

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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.