CHILD CUSTODY IN PENNSYLVANIA:
When a couple is separated, family law addresses how custody of a child will be resolved. In Pennsylvania, there are two types of child custody to be addressed: physical custody and legal custody. A custody matter is initiated by the filing a COMPLAINT IN CUSTODY and paying the filing fee at the court.
PHYSICAL CUSTODY: Physical custody involves how time with a child is apportioned between the parties (usually the parents). For example, one parent may be awarded primary physical custody and the other partial physical custody. Primary physical custody refers to where a child lives most of the time (for example, this might be where the school district is located or with the parent that can provide more time to care for and nature a child), and partial physical custody refers to where the child stays for a lesser amount of time (for example, this might be every other weekend and one mid-week overnight or for dinner with the parent who does not have primary custody). Holidays, family get-togethers and traditions, and how far apart each parent lives from the other are important matters that are taken into consideration. There are many factors that need to be reviewed in making a case for primary versus partial custody or other forms of custody. Each case is unique and no one can predict the particular physical custody schedule the court will order.
LEGAL CUSTODY: Legal custody refers to who can make major decisions in the life of a child. Major decisions would include what school or summer camp a child attends, in which religion a child is to be raised, whether a child can play a particular sport, and the like. Often the court awards joint legal custody, meaning the parents must confer with each other and agree. If circumstances warrant, the court may award one parent full legal custody, meaning that parent can make major life decision for a child unilaterally. As with physical custody, the court looks very carefully at the facts and circumstances regarding each child and then issues what it concludes is an appropriate decision and issues a court order. Again, as in assessing physical custody, no one can predict the particular legal custody arrangement the court will order.
There are many variations of the above that the court can order, and the above is only a general guide. For example, one parent may be permitted to have time with a child only under supervised conditions or there may be, in very specific circumstances, some form of custody awarded to a grandparent or grandparents. The standard applied by the court in all custody matters is the best interest of the child standard. It is important to continually assess child custody matters over time because as child grows and develops, her/his needs may change and require review which could warrant a modification of the original custody order.
THIS BLOG POST IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND IS NOT TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. NO CLIENT-ATTORNEY RELATIONSHIP IS ESTABLISHED. EACH CASE IS UNIQUE AND SHOULD BE EXPLORED WITH AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR JURISTICTION.