Child Custody in Lycoming County

Deciding child custody is one of the most stressful and personally difficult parts of any separation or divorce, even an amicable one. In Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, decisions made around child custody must be made official by the Lycoming County Courthouse in Williamsport.

Having the right representation matters in child custody cases, even if there is no dispute over custody terms. When it comes to child custody cases in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, we can help. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has the experience you need to resolve your case and secure your child's future. Call us today at 888.535.3686 or contact us online to schedule your confidential consultation.

Where Are Child Custody Cases Heard in Lycoming County?

The Lycoming County Courthouse is located at 48 West Third Street in Williamsport. The courthouse contains a Law Library in the basement, which contains valuable resources for your child custody case. Staff members will be available to assist you during operating hours (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 am to 4 pm, excluding holidays).

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody?

There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical and legal custody are not necessarily connected—a parent or guardian with legal custody of the child does not also have to have primary physical custody of the child. It's important to understand the differences between these two types of custody:

  • Physical custody refers to the person responsible for the child's daily care. This includes responsibilities such as providing food, clothing, and shelter, ensuring the child gets to and from school and other activities, and regularly taking the child to doctor and dentist appointments. In short, it encompasses taking care of the child's physical needs. In Lycoming County, physical custody is categorized in several ways:
    • Primary physical custody means the right to have physical custody the majority of the time.
    • Partial physical custody indicates the right to take possession of the child away from the custodial parent for a certain period of time.
    • Shared physical custody denotes the rights of more than one individual to spend significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.
    • Sole physical custody grants a single individual exclusive physical custody of the child.
    • Supervised physical custody means that a court-appointed party will monitor interactions between the child and the individual with physical custody.
  • Legal custody grants an individual the legal authority to make decisions concerning the child's care and upbringing. This includes deciding what school the child will attend, the religion that the child will practice, what types of medical treatment the child will receive, and other important choices. Legal custody is often shared by both parents, even if physical custody is primarily awarded to just one parent. It's also possible that one parent will be awarded legal custody even if they do not have primary physical custody. The court can and will make decisions in instances where parents with shared legal custody can't come to an agreement. In Lycoming County, there are two distinct types of legal custody:
    • Shared legal custody indicates the legal custody of the child is granted to more than one individual.
    • Sole legal custody grants exclusive legal custody of the child to a single individual.

What Are the Requirements to Seek Custody of a Child in Lycoming County?

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

Parents can always file for custody of their children in Lycoming County. Individuals who are not parents may have standing to file for custody as well. This includes relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others, as well as individuals who are unrelated to the child but who have acted as the child's parent (a situation called in loco parentis). However, the child's natural parents will almost always have the priority claim to custody.

Pennsylvania law requires that all judgments in child custody cases be made based on the child's best interests. This can mean that, even if the parents of a child have come to a custody agreement, the judge can enforce a different outcome if they do not agree with or approve of the plan. In these instances, the judge has the power to change custody terms to match their own interpretation of what's in the child's best interests.

It's important to retain the services of an experienced attorney in any custody case, even one where the parents agree on what should happen. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help make sure that the court is likely to accept the terms you and the other party put forth.

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

In Lycoming County, child custody cases generally start with the filing of a verified complaint or petition for modification of an existing order. This document will outline the request for custody, partial custody, or visitation and will be filed through the Lycoming County Courthouse's Prothonotary Office.

Once the complaint is filed, the courthouse will set a date for the hearing and alert the parties involved, including serving other parties if necessary. The parties involved and/or their legal counsel will then attend the hearing and make their cases. After hearing all evidence and testimony, the judge will issue a final child custody order.

There is a similar process for intervention in a custody case. Intervention happens when there is already a child custody order in place, but an individual wants to ask for some sort of custody either in place or in addition to the standing order.

Whether you are intervening in an existing custody order or involved in a standard custody case, qualified legal counsel can help make the entire process far easier to navigate. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team knows how important these cases are, as we've helped in many child custody matters throughout Pennsylvania, including Lycoming County. We are ready to help secure your child's best interests in any custody case.

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

There are a few ways you can move forward should you disagree with the terms of a child custody order in Lycoming County.

First is the aforementioned intervention process. This is likely the best way forward to change an existing custody order in which you were not already a participant. For example, if you are the grandparent of a child involved in a custody case, and you believe you have reason to seek partial custody in addition to the previous decision.

If you are seeking to change a child custody order in which you are an active participant, you will likely want to look into filing a petition for modification. This is appropriate if circumstances have significantly changed since the custody order was issued, for example, if the other parent or guardian were planning to relocate or if there were major changes in the child's day-to-day needs.

It's important to maintain compliance with the existing custody order while seeking to make a change, otherwise, you could potentially face legal consequences. Remember that this applies even if you and the other acting parent come to an agreement or arrangement that's mutually beneficial—if the other party suddenly decides to change their mind about things and alerts the court, you could find yourself in violation of the custody order. And that could mean a loss of custody.

It's also important to consider any change request carefully, as revisiting the case gives the judge an opportunity to issue a ruling that you're even more dissatisfied with. This precarious position is one of the many reasons child custody cases are so difficult to navigate.

In any child custody case, you're best off getting the guidance of qualified legal counsel. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team will research the particulars of your case to help you reach your desired outcome—one that protects your child's best interests and helps to secure their future.

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

In the state of Pennsylvania, violating a custody order can have serious repercussions. If your ex is violating the custody order, you should make detailed records of any instances when this happens. Include dates, times, and specific details, as these will all be important should you take legal action. Violations of a custody order include missed visitations and unauthorized changes to the custody schedule. Don't let these incidents slide.

However, if your ex is violating a custody order, it is best to attempt an amicable resolution before involving the court. Reaching a mutually acceptable solution that keeps the child's best interests in mind will take less time and resources than bringing the matter in front of a judge. And, if you do end up in court, it's important to be able to show that you're there as a last resort.

If you take legal action because the violations keep occurring or an amicable resolution otherwise can't be reached, the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help. We have the experience and knowledge to advise you in cases where your ex-partner violates your existing custody order.

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

As a child's needs change, it's reasonable that the custody order would change as well. Same if the parents' or guardians' situations change—what if one party were no longer able to adequately take physical custody, for example?

While it might seem reasonable for co-custodians to work out informal changes to the care of the child, it is imperative that any changes are actually formalized by the court. If not, you could technically no longer be complying with the court order. If the other parent or guardian changes their mind about the new arrangement, this could have serious repercussions, including contempt charges and the potential loss of custody rights.

If you and the other party are in agreement about the changes to be made, you can file a petition for modification that includes the agreed-upon stipulation. The court will often be amenable to this change so long as it's within the child's best interests.

If you want to change the terms of a custody order against the wishes of the other parent or guardian, the court will have to decide what happens. Remember that this could effectively backfire on you, as it jeopardizes whatever custody rights you already have in place.

No matter what, if you wish to change the terms of an existing child custody order, the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team can help. We will make sure your request is properly filed, and we'll represent your interests in any necessary legal proceedings. This applies whether you're filing the request or the other parent is seeking changes you don't agree with.

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

With years of experience representing parents in child custody cases throughout Pennsylvania, the LLF Law Firm Family Law Team has the knowledge you need on your side for custody cases in Lycoming County. We are ready to protect your child's best interests and defend your rights as a parent.

Our proven success helping clients in child custody cases, whether there's been a dispute about terms or an accusation of a violation, gives you peace of mind that your case is in the right hands. We're ready to help parties come to agreements on terms and to craft custody agreements that are acceptable to the Lycoming County officials.

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

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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