Philadelphia, PA- A lot of marriages in Pennsylvania end in divorce and many of those couples also have children. There are many issues divorcing couples must wrangle over but the most contentious happens to be child custody. Deciding which parent a couple’s child or children will live with can be emotionally charged and turn and divorce into a major battle.
When each spouse files their divorce papers, they must state what type of custody arrangement they would like. Some Pennsylvania couples, once they realize they are divorcing, can work out the custody arrangement between themselves, but many cannot and they need the help of a child custody lawyer and let the courts make a final decision.
If a couple asks family court to the determine child custody, Pennsylvania judges will be tasked with determining what is in the best interest of the child. When determining child custody, the courts will take into consideration the following:
- The age, gender, mental and physical health of a child/children
- The mental health of both parents
- Bonds between both parents and their child/children
- Each parents ability to provide food, shelter, clothing and medical care
- A parent’s ability to provide stability and continuity in the child’s life
- The wishes of a child
Family courts in Pennsylvania will award sole custody to one parent if the other parent is deemed unfit to be the primary caregiver. Such things such as a spouse’s history with history or drug or alcohol, criminal record or other extenuating circumstances. Even if a court does award one parent sole custody they often still give both parents the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing.
Sole custody is rare and most family court judges lean towards joint custody arrangements which allows both parents to make important decisions about their child’s upbringing, education and healthcare.
But courts tend to lean towards joint custody which has many benefits for parents and children alike. Each parent will be able to spend time their child, but must work together to devise a schedule for visitations and determine living arrangements. They must also work through issues over who will get the child during key holidays and other important life events.
With joint physical custody, a child typically spends equal time living with each parent. Some couples decide that their child will stay with one parent during the week while the other parent will have the child over the weekend. Or vice versa. Joint physical custody is the preferred arrangement for most courts but there is no guarantee this will be the final arrangement.
If divorce is inevitable for a couple and they know they are going to face issues with child custody, they should speak with a divorce lawyer near their Pennsylvania location. Custody can be a sensitive issue that must be handled with finesse, so you will be better off getting legal help right off the bat. Let USAttorneys connect you with an accomplished attorney today.