In any situation where child custody matters are addressed, a number of key questions are raised. Will you or the other parent be deemed legally unfit? How will your relationship with your kids change after a verdict? What are my parental rights? However, one of the most crucial concerns for parents, and one of the most weighty determinations for Pennsylvania judges, is each parent's right to physical custody.
The majority of family living situations change after a divorce or separation. Instead of cohabitation, parents resort to living in separate homes. The parent a child primarily lives with has physical custody.
There are two forms of physical custody: sole and joint physical custody. If you're in the midst of a child custody case, it's important you understand what these terms mean. Don't fret - The Lento Law Firm will give you a brief overview of physical custody in Pennsylvania.
Sole Physical Custody
In sole physical custody arrangements, a child will live with one parent known as the custodial or residential parent. In almost all cases, the other parent - called the non-custodial parent - gets regular visitation with the child. In Pennsylvania, a sole physical custody arrangement means that the child spends less than 50% of their time with a non-custodial parent. This doesn't include some additional vacation or holiday time. But the majority of the child's time is spent with the custodial parent.
Parents generally have a sole custody arrangement when both parents agree that it is in the child's best interest, one parent travels extensively for work and finds it difficult to have a child live with them, the parents live far away from each other, one parent has problems with substance abuse or is mentally unstable, or a parent has a history of abuse or neglect towards the child.
Joint Physical Custody
In joint physical custody arrangements, the child spends substantial time living with both parents, and they both have equal responsibility to physically care for the child. It's important to note that joint custody doesn't guarantee that both parents spend equal time with the child. It simply means that both parents have significant and frequent time.
Judges often decide that a joint physical custody arrangement is necessary in cases where parents agree that it is in the child's best interest, the parents are cooperative and agreeable, the parents live close to each other, and there is no history of child abuse, neglect, or domestic violence.
Pennsylvania is a state that prefers joint custody over sole custody. This is due to the fact that children are reported to do better if both parents are involved in their lives. Because of this sentiment, the court will order joint custody as the default arrangement unless a parent can prove that sole custody is in the best interest of the child.
Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
If you're involved in a child custody proceeding, it's important you retain legal counsel from an attorney who knows their stuff. Joseph D. Lento has helped parents from across the state score an agreement that includes their contributions, protects their parental rights, and most importantly, reflects the best interest of the child. For more information about Mr. Lento's representation, contact the Lento Law Firm today online or by phone at 888-535-3686.