Helping You To Maintain Focus On The Best Interests Of Your Children
Many times, even when a relationship ends, the parties still have to be involved in each others lives due to having one or more children together. This may always be difficult, but can be even worse when there is anger and hurt feelings involved due to the relationship ending. Parties may agree on a custody situation or parties may believe that they should have more custody than the other party.
Every custody situation is different, and our family law attorneys listen to our clients to get the full story in order to come up with the best possible solution. Although we will strongly advocate for our client’s wishes, we will not use the child as a pawn in an attempt to get back at the other parent for past wrongs. The welfare of your child (or children) is our top concern and we will honestly discuss all of your issues with you while listening to any concerns you may have.
Even if you and your spouse are not currently having a child custody battle, it is still wise to get the legal guidance of our custody attorneys at the Coover & Associates.
Are You In The Middle Of A Divorce In Pennsylvania And There Is A Child Involved?
It is imperative that you contact a Pennsylvania child custody lawyer today for seasoned legal counsel.
What Is Physical Custody?
Physical custody is the right of a party to have actual physical possession and control of a child. There are various types of physical custody in Pennsylvania. These are:
Shared physical custody – the right of more than one individual to assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.
Primary physical custody – the right of one parent to have physical custody of the child for the majority of the time.
Sole physical custody – where one parent has exclusive physical custody of the child. This means that the other parent does not see the child. This type of custody is hard to get and rare.
Supervised physical custody – this is when one parent has visitation with time with the child(ren) while monitored by an agency or an adult either designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties.
The trend today leans more toward parents of a child or children maintaining shared physical custody so that each parent has the equal amount of time with a child. It is usually in the best interest of a child to maintain as much contact as possible with both parents. However, there are circumstances that warrant one parent have more physical custody than the other parent. To discuss your custody situation and receive answers to your questions, please contact us today to set up your low-cost initial consultation.
Understanding Legal Custody
Legal custody is the right of a party to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions. In Pennsylvania, there are two different types of legal custody:
Shared legal custody – this is the right of more than one individual to make major decisions on behalf of the child. This is the most common unless one parent has proven that he or she is unable to make decisions that are in the best interest of their child.
Sole legal custody – this is the right of only one individual to make major decisions on behalf of the child. This usually occurs when one parent has shown his or her inability to make decisions for a child that would be in his or her best interest.
It is common for parents to come to an agreement regarding a custody schedule that works for them and their children. Whether it is a shared custody situation or one parent have primary custody with the other parent having periods of physical custody, coming to an agreement ensures that both parents are making the decisions for their child instead of the court doing so. However, sometimes the court is unavoidable when parents can not see eye to eye about the best interest of their child. When a Judge is required to make a decision about where a child should live, they must consider all relevant factors which concern the best interest of the child, including the following:
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party
- The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of a party’s household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child
- The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life
- The availability of extended family
- The child’s sibling relationships
- The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment
- The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm
- Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs
- Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, educational and special needs of the child
- The proximity of the residences of the parties
- Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements
- The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party’s effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party
- The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household
- The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household
- Any other relevant factor
- Custody hearings or trials can take anywhere from a half day to numerous days. It is extremely important that you have an experienced custody attorney representing you. For a low-cost initial consultation to discuss your custody case, please contact our office at your earliest convenience
Criminal History Of A Parent
The family court judge must also consider certain criminal offenses that a party has been convicted of, or entered a no contest or guilty plea to. The court must determine that the party with the conviction does not pose a threat of hard to the child before granting that party any type of custody. The offenses that must be considered are as follows:
- Criminal homicide
- Aggravated assault
- Terroristic threats
- Unlawful restraint
- False imprisonment
- Luring of a child into a motor vehicle or structure
- Statutory sexual assault
- Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse
- Sexual assault
- Indecent assault
- Indecent exposure
- Sexual intercourse with an animal
- Conduct relating to sex offenders
- Arson and related offenses
- Concealing death of a child
- Endangering welfare of children
- Dealing with infant children
- Prostitution and related offenses
- Obscene and other sexual materials and performances
- Corruption of minors
- Sexual abuse of children
- Unlawful contact with minor
- Sexual exploitation of children
- Contempt for violation of order or agreement
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance
- Driving after imbibing alcohol or utilizing drugs
- Manufacture, sale, delivery, holding, offering for sale or possession of any controlled substance or other drug or device.
If you have been convicted or pled guilty or no contest to any of the above charges, contact our office at your earliest convenience to set up a low-cost initial consultation to discuss your options and how to move forward in your custody action.
Of course, it is not in the best interest of a child to have a stranger, who may never meet the child, decide where they should live and when visitation should occur. We will always expertly attempt to negotiate a custody agreement that is best for the child and for our client. However, if there is the need to go into court, our custody lawyers will strongly advocate for what they believe is in the best interest of the child and what the client wants. Contact us at Coover & Associates today to speak to one of our family law attorneys via email or by calling at 717-885-5830 or 717-243-9190.