Delaware County, PA Child Visitation Lawyer
Child Custody and Visitation Mediation
There are many reasons why a marriage may fail, but when a marriage ends up hurting the people in it, it’s time to make a difficult but necessary decision. Divorce is unfortunate, but is sometimes the only option to preserve the happiness and well-being of both spouses.
When children are also involved in the divorce, it becomes a much more complicated matter. Child custody is often the most contentious issue in a divorce and can lead to a long, drawn-out court battle, after which neither parents nor children may get an arrangement that is in the best interests of the family.
If you choose to divorce through litigation, the ultimate decision is made by a judge and what a judge believes is in the best interests of the child may not actually be the most suitable arrangement for your family.
A preferable alternative to a child custody and visitation order by a judge is mediation. As an experienced child visitation lawyer in Pennsylvania, Sheryl R. Rentz encourages her clients and those in similar situations to come up with a child custody and visitation arrangement together, outside the courtroom, which suits both the best interests of the child and ensures stable family relationships.
What Can You Decide through Mediation in Pennsylvania?
Mediation gives a divorcing couple the opportunity to resolve family law matters in an informal setting, without the stress of a contentious courtroom battle, and come to a truly mutual decision on important issues that should not be left in the hands of a judge who will not have to live with the consequences of the decision.
Child custody and visitation, as well as child support, may all be arranged through mediation and established in a binding contract that will be recognized by the court. Though a court may also consider a child's requests, by choosing mediation, you and your spouse can have a less stressful conversation with your child about the situation and about what they want, if they are old enough to provide a thoughtful opinion.
Child custody issues that may be resolved through mediation include:
- Physical custody: which parent the child will live with;
- Legal custody: which parent will make decisions about their child;
- Child support: how much money and how often it must be paid to the custodial parent in support of the child; and
- Visitation: how often the non-custodial parent may spend time with their child.
There are a variety of arrangements that may be made concerning each of these issues, and while a mediator will help facilitate the discussion of child custody matters, it is beneficial to also have legal representation to advise you on the best course of action.
Factors That Influence Visitation Rights
The primary concern when determining visitation is the child’s well-being. Courts may include requirements for visitation to protect the child’s safety, such as drug tests. The following factors will be considered by courts when determining visitation rights and schedules:
- The child’s wishes
- Proximity of residences
- History of physical abuse
- History of substance abuse
- Parents’ work schedules
- How visitation impacts siblings and extended family
Legal Issues Related to Visitation
Pennsylvania recognizes parental contact as an important part of the child’s development. Statutes on domestic relations include the term visitation as part of child custody. Courts try to grant visitation rights to non-custodial parents whenever it’s in the child’s best interest.
If a custodial parent requests to relocate with their child, the court will consider how this will impact visitation. Ultimately, the court will consider the overall situation and what’s most beneficial for the child.
In some cases such as Collins v. Collins, out-of-state relocation will be approved. In other cases such as Fuehrer v. Fuehrer, the request will be denied. The unique family situation will always be considered, and past parental behavior will have a strong influence on the court’s decision.
In Hiller v. Fausey, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court maintained that the state has the right to allow visitation rights to grandparents.
Safeguarding Your Child's Future
While you may be divorcing your spouse, it is your child that will be the most affected by the change. By developing a child custody arrangement with your spouse, with your child's best interests in mind, you will be able to minimize the emotional stress your child may be going through.
Changing circumstances such as relocation may require modification of the custody agreement. It’s best for parents to work this out amicably among themselves, but when this isn’t possible, you may need to consult with your family law attorney about post-decree modifications.
Delaware County family law attorney Sheryl R. Rentz can help you decide if mediation is the right course of action for you and your family. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. today at (866) 645-0100 to schedule a consultation.
- Understanding Pennsylvania Child Visitation
- Understanding Pennsylvania Grandparent Visitation Rights
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- Why Would a Parent Have Temporary Custody in PA?