Child custody cases are never easy to resolve. If questions about sole or shared custody can't be decided between the parents or guardians of the child, matters are likely to end up in court. And while on the surface that might appear to be a fair way to resolve a custody dispute, in reality what it means is a loss of control. Instead of the child's parents or guardians resolving the dispute on their own terms, the matter is now in the hands of a judge.
Focusing on the Child's Best Interests
When the question turns to custody of a special needs child, however, the issues can be even more difficult to resolve. Pennsylvania law requires the court to focus on “the best interests of the child,” and that means judges take many different aspects of the child's life into account before making a custody decision. With a special needs child there are even more concerns. For example, if the child reacts poorly to changes in their environment, that could be an argument in favor of giving one parent full physical custody, with the other parent having visitation rights.
Or perhaps one parent is better able to care for a special needs child than the other; one thing the court must consider is “[w]hich party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, and special needs of the child.” If one of the parents has a demanding job or travels frequently for work, the court may be more inclined to award physical custody of the special needs child to the other parent.
Sometimes there are factors outside the family that come into consideration. If the child requires special medical care or educational services that aren't widely available, the court may favor giving physical custody to the parent or guardian located closest to where those services are offered, provided of course that the custodial parent will be able to get the child to and from their treatments or schooling. And if the child's mental or physical state is such that the child will be dependent on others for their care for many years to come, the court may also mandate an extended period of child support to help pay for that care.
The Lento Family Law Team Can Help
These are never easy issues to resolve, and when parents can't agree they only become more difficult. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Family Law Team have seen this first-hand over and over again. That's why when clients come to them with difficult family law issues, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Family Law Team work hard to help their client resolve those issues as amicably as possible – while still fighting for their client's rights when necessary, and making sure that the best interests of their client's children are a priority.
If you are facing unresolved family law issues, including custody issues involving a special needs child, call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Family Law Team today at 888.535.3686 or through their online contact page. You owe it to yourself and your children to get the advice of an experienced and compassionate legal team.