Frequently Asked Questions about Custody in Pennsylvania
Get Help From a Montgomery County Family Law Lawyer
Seeking custody of your child amidst a divorce, or even outside such proceedings, is a heavy burden to shoulder. Regardless if negotiations are civil or dreadfully bitter, creating long term strategies for your child’s continued well being is a difficult and complex task. In each case, it is wise to call upon the counsel of a dedicated family law attorney with a strong focus on child custody settlements. Attorney Sheryl R. Rentz has the experience, empathy and legal understanding to help you and your partner find a suitable arrangement – even if that means going to court.
Call the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz today and speak with one of the knowledgeable team members to set up a free consultation. The number is (866) 290-9292.
Q: How Is Custody Defined In Pennsylvania?
A: The state of Pennsylvania recognizes two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to with whom the child actually lives. More often than not, this is the primary caregiver’s home, but can vary depending on the court’s appraisal of the parenting situation. Physical custody can be broken down in a number of ways to create amicable arrangements for both parents – sole custody, joint custody, partial custody and supervised partial custody to name a few.
Legal custody on the other hand refers to the parent who will be making a majority of the major decisions in the child’s life. Again, this can fall to the primary caregiver; however, courts prefer almost always to split this role up, if at all possible. Parents who share joint legal custody will confer on life-altering decisions involving the child prior to finalizing one way or another.
Unfortunately, while judges prefer for separated parents to work out their differences and resolve custody issues between one another - this is quite often not possible. If one parent is consistently fighting the decision or both parents are perpetually locked in strife, the courts will rule in favor of what is in the child’s best interest - with or without the parent’s help.
Q: Who Can Seek Custody of A Child in Pennsylvania?
A: There are three distinctly different individuals that can petition for custody of a child, depending on the circumstances:
- Parents of the child - The most obvious choice and foremost in the court’s mind.
- Grandparents - In the state of Pennsylvania, grandparents have the right to seek custody provided a certain criteria are met to the court’s satisfaction.
- In Position of the Parent - Any individual who has assumed the role of a parent for a certain period of time and the court finds suitable in regards to the particular situation. This is known in legal terminology as in loco parentis.
Q: Does My Sexual Orientation Factor Into Custody?
A: No. Under Pennsylvania state law, the court or any other entity cannot use the parent’s sexual orientation as a factor when determining child custody.
Q: Do Courts Favor Mothers Over Fathers In Regards To Custody?
A: Not any longer. In years past, conventional wisdom dictated that a mother would best serve the needs of a child. Over time, this notion has shifted drastically and today courts no longer give mothers preferential treatment. Instead, judges focus on what situation would serve the child best.
Q: What Are The Criteria Courts Use In Deciding Custody in Pennsylvania?
A: In Pennsylvania, if parents cannot come to a suitable custody agreement between one another, a judge will decide for them. In the process, they will take into consideration a number of factors, including:
- Is there a history of abuse with one or both of the parents?
- Which parent will provide a level of continuity in the child’s care?
- Which parent has the most extended family and their level of commitment?
- Which parent will stay in tune with the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs?
- Which parent the child prefers and the reasoning behind their decision?
For answers to other child custody questions, please contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz at (866) 290-9292 today and speak with a dedicated Pennsylvania family law attorney.