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Your children mean everything to you, and you never thought you would see the day where your family splits apart. When it comes to child custody, the process is complicated and the emotions involved often feel unbearable.
Having a competent attorney by your side is vital at a time like this. A lawyer can provide an objective, professional approach to the custody proceeding, allowing you to focus on tending to your family’s needs.
Pennsylvania child custody laws allow the state to award families different types of custody. The different types can determine visitation and interactions with the child, as well as who has a say in major life decisions.
The two kinds of custody in Pennsylvania are legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody determines who can decide on major life choices, like medical needs, educational paths or religious decisions, on behalf of the child. A party can be awarded either sole legal custody or shared legal custody, although the latter is most common.
Alternatively, physical custody describes the control and possession of the child. This kind of custody includes several types, including but not limited to shared physical custody, partial physical custody, supervised physical custody and sole physical custody.
For example, parents with physical custody alone cannot decide what school their child attends, but they could potentially decide day-to-day things such as when and what their child eats, who they play with, what they watch on TV, or when they go to bed while the child is in their care.
Sole custody describes a situation where one parent or parental figure has full physical and/or legal custody over their child.
Also called joint custody, shared custody occurs when both parents or parental figures share physical and/or legal custody over a child. This is commonly referred to as a 50/50 split. Parents might have equal or unequal shared custody agreements. For example, one parent might have the child only for the weekends or the summer, while the other has them for the rest of the time.
Shared custody could also include visitation rights, allowing one parent to host the child full-time, while the other only gets to see them at regular, scheduled intervals. Shared custody allows both parents to interact and form relationships with their child.
Partial physical custody generally means physical custody that is less than shared physical custody. Parents often use the term “visitation” as a synonymous term when referring to partial physical custody. In a partial physical custody situation, one parent is considered the “primary” custodian, meaning they physically have the majority of the time with the child.
The “non-primary” custodian has some version of physical custody that is less than shared, but the parent may see the child at regular, scheduled intervals. For example, one parent might have the child only for the weekends or the summer, while the other has them for the rest of the time. Each case is unique and, depending on the circumstances, the court may require visitation to occur in specified settings or with a neutral third-party individual present.
Custody is a complicated process because there are many factors to consider. Courts want to ensure children are in the best care possible, so legal teams and judges must weigh various information before granting any type of custody. Some factors include:
The courts might also ask the children where they want to live, though this depends on their established maturity and judgment. There is no determined age when the courts specify the child can automatically choose.
All of Pennsylvania’s custody factors can be found via the following link: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/LI/consCheck.cfmtxtType=HTM&ttl=23&div=0&chpt=53&sctn=28&subsctn=0
There are many different issues that must be considered in a custody proceeding. For instance, you may learn that you and your child’s other parent have widely differing views on parental responsibilities. Pennsylvania custody law is designed with this in mind, and the goal of custody law is to help you and your spouse reach reasonable compromises on many, if not all, of the potential issues.
A skilled legal professional can assist you with working through many of the issues involved in a custody proceeding such as:
Your family means everything to you, and no two families are alike. These are just a few of the potential issues that you will have to work through in a Pennsylvania custody proceeding. The law recognizes that you and your family have unique needs.
If you become involved in a custody proceeding, your children are likely to experience some measure of hurt, confusion and disappointment. You want to minimize their pain as much as possible, and let them know that although you and their other parent are no longer together, your love for them remains.
It is vitally important for you to be there for your children during this time, which is why securing the services of a legal professional with experience in family and custody law is essential.
A legal professional can provide necessary support and guidance, while representing your best interests. With an attorney working on your behalf, you can focus on the important work of healing your family.
If you are experiencing custody issues, contact Buzgon Davis Law Offices today to get in contact with our legal team.
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