Courts in Pennsylvania and throughout the country use the best interest of the child standard when making child custody or visitation rulings. That standard generally applies whether an agreement is crafted by a judge or is negotiated by the parents themselves prior to a hearing.
Factors that are often considered
Any factor that may be deemed relevant in a given case will be taken into account when determining if an order meets the best interest of the child standard. Common variables include the age of the child as well as the physical, emotional and financial health of a parent. If a parent has a substance abuse problem, it may be necessary for that person to seek help prior to obtaining full custody or visitation rights. A family law court might also consider whether awarding custody or visitation rights would require a child to change schools or adjust to other significant changes.
Your child’s needs may change
A custody or visitation order may need to be updated as your child gets older. This is because the state may take your child’s wishes into account after a minor reaches a certain age. Furthermore, your son or daughter may join a club, get a job or otherwise want to spend more time with friends. Therefore, it may be necessary to alter an existing agreement to ensure that your child has the chance to have a happy and productive upbringing.
Generally speaking, both parents are given an opportunity to interact with their children regardless of how the adults feel about each other. Witness statements, medical records and other evidence may allow you to make a good impression on a judge and enable you to receive either full custody or generous visitation rights to your children.