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Pennsylvania custody law focuses on the child’s best interest

Here at Evey Black Attorneys LLC, we represent people across central Pennsylvania in divorce and a variety of family law matters. If you face divorce, we understand the stress of the monumental changes that you face and the uncertainty of the future.  Our lawyers provide support and compassion as well as the legal advice and advocacy you need to move forward toward your goals and in the best interests of your children. 

Custody of children

Most parents say the most important thing in divorce is the determination of child custody issues. Pennsylvania law puts the best interests of children firmly first and foremost in any legal decision involving them. 

You and your spouse may be able to negotiate a marital settlement agreement through your lawyers or in mediation in which you resolve issues of child custody such as: 

  • Will legal custody be shared or sole? Legal custody gives the right and responsibility for making life decisions like those involving health, religion and education to one or both parents.
  • Will physical custody be shared or sole? Physical custody determines which parent will have possession of the child and with whom the child will reside. Shared physical custody means that the child will spend significant time with each parent. Sole physical custody means that one parent provides the primary residence with the other parent usually getting visitation rights.
  • What will the schedule be? If physical custody is shared, how will time be split between the two households? If one parent has visitation, what will that schedule look like? 

Creating your own agreement allows you to have some control over the outcome, even if compromise is required. If you cannot agree, these issues will be decided by the judge assigned to the divorce after hearing evidence in court. The judge might require that you and your spouse try mediation first to see if you can resolve things out of court. 

Children’s best interest 

If custody and visitation are decided by a judge, he or she must determine what is in the child’s best interest considering all relevant factors, especially those affecting the child’s safety. The state also requires specific consideration of particular listed factors, including the child’s preference if mature enough, parental ability to nurture and meet the child’s needs emotionally, sibling relationships, parent duties met by each and more.

 

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