PennsylvaniaChild Custody Law
Pennsylvania Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.
Child custody cases in Pennsylvania can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
- How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged
This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Pennsylvania court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.
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After a breakup or divorce in Pennsylvania, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.
Some of the factors considered by Pennsylvania in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence.
Grandparents and great-grandparents
In ordering partial physical custody or supervised physical custody to a party who has standing , the court shall consider the following:
- the amount of personal contact between the child and the party prior to the filing of the action
- whether the award interferes with any parent-child relationship
- whether the award is in the best interest of the child
If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Pennsylvania judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".
In the state of Pennsylvania, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Pennsylvania's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Do judges in the state of Pennsylvania favor joint custody?
Judges in Pennsylvania are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.
Courts in Pennsylvania do not have a presumption in favor joint custody orders when evaluating child custody. The judge will evaluate the specifics of the custody dispute to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.
Do Pennsylvania courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?
Pennsylvania courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Pennsylvania law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.
Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.
Do Pennsylvania courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?
Pennsylvania has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.
Do the courts in the state of Pennsylvania have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?
Pennsylvania has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.