When you have children in a marriage or relationship, the last thing on your mind is what could happen if things between you and your partner go awry. But when you split, you're forced to think about what went wrong, how you two can put aside your differences to successfully co-parent, and what's the overall best interest of your child. Revisiting this situation can be painful and the whole ordeal can be difficult to process, especially if you're still hurt from the split. This is why child custody hearings are the most emotionally charged court for parents.
There are ways to avoid a contentious battle in court. The ideal solution would be to have a polite and cordial discussion about things with your child will be going forward. Regardless of whether you find yourself in a heated battle or a respectful exchange, knowing the child custody laws can increase your chances of success.
Child Custody Factors
In Pennsylvania, child custody laws require the court to consider certain factors when deciding a suitable custody arrangement. Here are some factors that help the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child:
- The parental duties performed by you and the other parent on behalf of the child
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent contact between the child and the other parent
- A history of abuse, if applicable
- The need for stability in the child's education, family, and community life
- Availability of extended family
- Sibling relationships
- The proximity of each partner's residencies
- The mental and physical condition of you and the other parent, etc.
Types of Custody Arrangements
There are two main types of custody: physical and legal.
Physical custody means you, as a parent, have the right to have your child live with you. The types of physical custody you can be awarded are divided into five categories.
- Primary: One parent spends more than 50 percent of the time with the child.
- Joint: Both parents have physical custody for specified times. This arrangement works best if parents live relatively close to each other.
- Partial: The parent with partial custody spends a decent portion of time with the child, but that portion cannot be more than 49% of the time.
- Supervised: The court was given a reason to monitor the time spent with one or both parents.
- Sole: Only one parent has custody of the child at all times.
Legal custody of a child means that you have the right to make the important decisions in matters like your child's schooling, religious upbringing, and medical care.
- Sole: Only one parent has the legal right to make these decisions for their child.
- Joint: Both parents have the legal right to make important decisions for their child.
Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
With all the things to consider in a child custody case, predicting an outcome in a hearing is pretty difficult. This is why it's important you retain a qualified family law attorney who has extensive knowledge of the state's process and has helped families get an arrangement that reflects the best interest of their child. To ensure your parental rights are protected, and your contributions are considered, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.