Delaware County Child Custody Attorney
Child Custody in Delaware County
After a divorce or separation, parents are faced with the difficult task of arranging who will have custody of their child or children. Whilst some parents may be able to reach their own agreement, often, legal assistance is necessary. Data from the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, reports there were 35,767 custody cases filed in 2020 in Delaware County. Of the custody cases processed in 2020, 47.4% of these were resolved without a court hearing.
If you require legal assistance for custody matters in Delaware County, the experienced team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. will passionately fight for your desired outcome, whether through negotiations, mediations, or at trial. Call us today at (610) 645-0100 for a free consultation.
How Custody Is Determined
In amicable separations, parents may be able to agree on an informal custody arrangement, however, this will not be enforceable by the courts.
When parents are unable to agree, or where an informal agreement is not being adhered to, court intervention may be necessary. In Delaware County, either or both parents can file a custody petition with the Family Court. The parties will generally be referred to mediation, and if a custody agreement is reached, a consent order will be signed that becomes legally enforceable.
If no agreement is reached at mediation, or mediation is not appropriate in the situation, a court hearing will occur and the judge will make a custody order based on the best interests of the child.
Types of Custody
In Delaware County, the term “custody” refers to both physical custody (who the child physically resides with) and legal custody (the decision-making powers a parent has over the child).
If one parent has sole custody, the non-custodial parent generally has specified visitation rights, which can be supervised or unsupervised. The custodial parent must keep the other parent informed about all significant matters concerning the child, including their education, health, and social activities so the other parent has the opportunity to attend.
If parents have joint custody, both parents are entitled to physical custody of the child for the times specified in their agreement or court order and must make significant decisions affecting the child jointly.
Can a Custody Order be Changed?
The parties can alter informal custody arrangements where they both agree to the changes. For court-ordered custody arrangements, a custody modification form must be filed with the court.
The court can modify consent orders at any time, provided the judge is satisfied the alteration is in the child’s best interests. For court orders issued after a full hearing, if less than 2 years have passed, the court will only modify the order if continuing to enforce it would endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impact their emotional development. If 2 years have passed, the court decides whether to modify the order based on the child’s best interests, each parent’s compliance with the prior order, and the benefits of the alteration compared to any potential harm.
Why Having a Skilled Lawyer Matters
Custody issues are extremely emotional matters with high stakes. Having a skilled Delaware County family law lawyer on your side helps ensure your interests are conveyed in a reasoned manner, whether during mediation or in the courtroom. As the court’s primary consideration for custody orders is the child’s best interests, having a lawyer establish why your desired involvement in the child’s life is in their best interest is crucial.
The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. have extensive experience assisting clients with a range of custody matters. If you want outstanding legal representation for your custody dispute in Delaware County, call us today at (610) 645-0100.