If you were thinking about separating or divorcing before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and decided to wait until the crisis had passed, now that Pennsylvania (as well as many other states) are slowly starting to reopen, you might be ready to take action. It's possible that being stuck at home for these many weeks with your spouse has made it clear that the two of you need to go your separate ways. And if you have children, you might suspect that you could be facing a contentious custody battle.
Fighting for custody is always one of the most difficult aspects of a Pennsylvania divorce. If the pandemic has brought out the worse in you or your partner, it's time to take a deep breath and put aside your emotions. Here are some things to do, and not do, as you prepare for a custody plan.
First, you should contact a seasoned Pennsylvania family attorney who will fight for you and what is in you and your children's best interests. An attorney on your side can help you navigate the family court system and help you from making critical mistakes.
How Does the Court Determine Custody?
Second, you should understand the factors that family courts use to determine custody. In Pennsylvania, there are 16 factors that the courts consider to determine what is in the best interest of the child, and they range from which parent will be more likely to encourage contact with the other parent, to who will be more likely to attend to the physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child.
Focus on proving you can meet these 16 factors rather than telling the court why your ex will not be able to do so. Collect evidence of what you are doing right, and do not take to social media to start bashing your ex or brag about your new life.
Agree to Work Together
If possible, you and your soon-to-be-ex should establish some sort of custody agreement that is favorable to both of you. This will tell the court that you were able to amicably come to some sort of agreement, which means that you can still work together for the sake of the children, even if the marriage is over.
Yes, divorce is hard, and determining a custody agreement is even harder, but you should try to remain open-minded and flexible so that the judge sees the two of you working together. Winning sole custody should not be your only goal. Most judges and courts feel it is best if both parents are involved in their children's lives after they divorce, so have the expectation that an agreement will more likely be a 50/50 type situation (unless there are mitigating circumstances involved).
Finally, if your ex is displaying negative behavior, you should definitely track it and document it, if possible. If they are trashing you on social media, or sending you threatening texts or emails, or preventing you from seeing your children, you should document these behaviors so you can present them in court.
Pennsylvania Custody Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has been handling custody disputes for years. With the family courts reopening with limited operations, now is the time to contact Mr. Lento to discuss your situation and let him handle the rest. Call his office today at 888-535-3686 to learn how Attorney Lento can help you.