Frequently asked questions regarding child custody in Pennsylvania...
How is child custody determined by the court?
There are 16 factors that Pennsylvania courts consider when awarding custody. Pennsylvania’s custody law also clarifies who has standing to bring a custody action — in other words, who is legally able to file a complaint for custody. The statute is relatively new law and is still being interpreted by Pennsylvania's courts, but it will have a direct impact on your custody case. Contact me today for a consultation regarding the ramifications of the law and your case.
When do the children get a say in which parent gets custody?
There is no set age in Pennsylvania as to when children get a say in the custody process. However, the custody law provides that the "well-reasoned preference" of the child, depending on how they are able to articulate that preference, may be considered a relevant factor in the custody process. Further, the county that your matter will be heard in may have its own standards by which a child participates in the process.
Do we need to have a written custody Order?
Yes. Even parents who are very amicable and communicate well benefit from having a custody Order in writing. By having your agreement made an Order of court, parents are given a forum to have issues with the arrangement heard and addressed if necessary, and your custody agreement will protect both parents and the children from the strife that can arise when an agreement is not formalized in writing. Parents can keep their Order flexible, but know that their Order will control in the event of a disagreement.
What if I want to relocate with my child after divorce?
Pennsylvania's custody law provides a specific procedure when a parent wishes to relocate. If you are considering relocating, or your child's parent is threatening to, be sure to consult a qualified attorney to discuss the relocation process. Misunderstanding the statute or not timely filing the proper documentation could result in the court denying a request to relocate or could constitute your waiver of the ability to object to a custody relocation.
Can I get custody of my grandchildren?
Grandparents' custody rights are controlled by the Pennsylvania child custody law. The facts of your situation will control your matter. If you would like to discuss your Pennsylvania grandparent custody matter, please contact me and I would be happy to meet with you.
I am having issues with a Custody Order that has been in place for awhile. What can I do?
A party to a Custody action may file a Petition to Modify their current Order by citing reasons why adjusting the Order would be in the child(ren)'s best interest. If your Order has been in place for some time and is no longer a good fit, or the other parent simply won't cooperate with your Order, it may be time to consider modification. Since your Order is enforceable by the court, an action in contempt may also be available to you. Let's talk about what will work for your specific needs.
What if we agree about how to share custody? Do we have to go to court?
No! Reaching a custody agreement privately has so many benefits for you and your child(ren)... and being able to stay out of court is one of them. However, you should still make sure an attorney helps you draft the agreement so that it includes everything that it should and so that it conforms with your county's local rules. Give me a call so we can discuss how we can put an enforceable Order in place without having to appear before a judge or master.