In Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia county, situations arise in which separated parents come into conflict as to who should have custody of their offspring. In many cases, child custody disputes are difficult for the parties involved, especially the children in question. It is essential that any parent who is engaged in a child custody dispute is aware of their rights and how having an experienced family law attorney is essential to their case.
Child Custody in the Commonwealth: Who Can File For Custody and Where
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a parent (and in some cases grandparents) will be able to file a petition for custody in the county in which the child in question has lived for the past 6 months. A grandparent may file for custody of the child if”
- The grandparent is willing to take custody of the child,
- Either parent of the child allowed the grandparent to have a close and personal relationship with the child,
- The court determines that the child in question is at risk for parental abuse OR
- The child has been labeled as a “dependent” in a PA court OR,
- The parents of the child have died,
- The child has resided with the grandparent for at least 12 months consecutively and the child was removed from the home by the parent(s). (In this situation, the grandparent will have to file for custody within 6 months of the child being taken from the home.
Determining Custody Based on the Best Interests of the Child
The Commonwealth Pennsylvania has a wide range of custody laws that determines visitation, custody, and child support. Prior to any decision on determining who will have custody of the child, the Court may order the spouses to undergo counseling in the hopes that the two parties will be able to come to mutual agreement as to how custody will be determined for the child.
In most cases, Pennsylvania courts will determine where the child shall live based on his or her “best interests“. In order to determine the best interests of the child, PA courts consider a multitude of factors including:
- The preferences of the child,
- The health and well-being of both parents,
- The location of where each parent lives and how that will benefit or burden the child,
- Where the child goes to school,
- The child’s relationship with both parents,
- Whether either parent has a criminal background or displayed a history of domestic violence and/or drug use,
- Which parent’s home is able to provide the child with a sense of “continuity” in their life,
- Which parent is able to ensure that the child is raised in a proper, loving, and caring environment.
It should be noted that, in making a determination, no party shall receive preference based upon gender in any custody case.
Various Types of Custody in Pennsylvania
Once the court has weighed the above factors, it will issue a custody order determining what type of custody either parent will have. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has various forms of child custody that include:
- Primary Custody- Which allows one parent to spend the majority of time with the child and the other parent will only get supervised visitation or partial custody.
- Sole Custody- Allows for only one party to have full physical custody of the child at all times and make any legal decisions for him/her.
- Supervised- The parent will only be able to the child under court-appointed supervision.
- Shared- Both parties will have the right to spend significant periods of time with the child.
- Partial- A party will only be able to spend less then half the amount of time with child as opposed to the other party.
Hiring an Attorney For Your Child Custody Case:
Child custody cases can be a long and difficult process for all parties involved, especially the child. The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this process. Please contact us with any question about your specific case. Our experienced staff and attorneys will ensure that your needs, concerns, and questions will be handled in a professional and courteous manner.