Divorce is already emotionally charged, but when children are involved it can be even more difficult. Children often feel like they must choose between their parents and their lives are usually turned upside down as they shuttle between homes. It is even worse if the parents are not on good terms. Pennsylvania courts have long held the best interest of the children as a priority in determining child custody. In custody cases, having an attorney experienced in child custody issues can be very beneficial.
Types of Child Custody
Child custody is a two-pronged determination: legal custody and physical custody. One or both parents are awarded legal custody which provides them the right to make major decisions that affect the children, including educational, religious, and medical issues. Physical custody is also awarded to one or both parents giving them the right to have the children in their care. Legal and physical custody have the following determinations:
- Legal Custody
- Sole – awarded to one parent
- Shared – awarded to both parents
- Physical Custody
- Primary – one parent is awarded custody the majority of the time
- Shared – both parents are provided frequent, regular and relatively equal custody with the children
- Partial – when one parent has primary custody the other parent has partial custody of no more than a couple of days a week (i.e. every other weekend)
- Supervised – visitation supervised by a friend, relative, or court appointed agent, typically ordered when the party is a known danger to the children such as in the case of abuse
Who can Seek Child Custody?
Pennsylvania family law is very specific regarding who can seek a custody order. One of both parents can seek custody provided they have not terminated their parental rights either involuntarily, voluntarily or through adoption proceedings. If the children are legally adopted, the adoptive parent or parents can also seek custody. In certain cases, such as if the welfare of the children is at risk, a grandparent of the children can petition the court for custody. They can also seek custody if they have had the children in their care for a period not less than 12 months.
Pennsylvania Child Custody Attorney
When you need a child custody attorney in Pennsylvania, call me, Chris Stachtiaris at CLM Family Law Services, LLC. I understand that divorce is a difficult process. I will work to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children. You don’t have to go through your divorce alone; call me today.