When Is Custody Not Given to Either Parent?
Child custody battles are hard to get through, especially when parents cannot get along. But parents must put their feelings to the side and do what’s in the best interest of the child. They might as well.
Pennsylvania’s family court judges will stick to this rule whenever they are faced with a custody decision. They do not show favoritism, or automatically side with the mother as most people believe. However, there are times when the “best interest of the child” is to NOT give custody to either parent, but to a legal guardian or a responsible family member.
Causes for Custody Denials
If one or both parents are deemed unfit, or if the judge feels the child would be in an unsafe and unstable environment, then custody will be denied. Below are the most common ways parents end up losing custody of their children:
- Abandonment: If the parent has left the child in the care of others with no contact for a minimum of one year.
- Abuse: The child is at risk for physical abuse, or the parents have a history of substance and alcohol abuse.
- Mental illness: Both parents have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness that prevents them properly caring for the child.
- Sexual Abuse: If there are any claims of sexual abuse in the home, then the child will be removed until it is deemed safe. If claims are substantiated, the child will be given a new home.
- Environment: The parents cannot provide a stable living environment.
- Neglect: The child’s basic needs, such as clothing, food, and hygiene, aren’t being met.
Depending on the age of the child, the judge may ask the child about his or her relationship with the parents. The child is not put on trial during this process. Typically, this takes place in the judge’s office, and the judge will take the child’s response into consideration during the final decision.
Child custody issues are very complex and emotional. It is best to contact an experienced lawyer to handle the stress for you. At the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., we have over 20 years of experience dealing with child custody cases in the Montgomery County area. If you or someone you know is at risk of losing a child or would like more information, give our office a call at (610) 645-0100 for a free consultation.