If you are going through a divorce and have children, you need to be familiar with Pennsylvania child custody laws. You’ll want to learn more about the factors judges consider and the type of custody you might get.
Who gets custody?
Under Pennsylvania law, parents can decide on their child custody arrangement by themselves. But if they cannot agree, the court will take over. The judge will consider a variety of factors when making this decision, including the following:
- The wishes of the child if they are old enough
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- The needs of the child
- Any history of abuse or neglect by either parent
Types of custody
The parent who spends most of the time with the child or provides the primary home where they stay is the custodial parent, and the other is the noncustodial parent. An arrangement could look like the following:
- Partial physical custody: This is where the non-custodial parent spends time with their child on a regular basis, based on the schedule arranged by the court. The child will primarily live with the custodial parent.
- Shared physical custody: This is where both parents get equal time with the child. With this arrangement, you must have two good homes or consider “nesting” where the child lives in one home that the parents rotate sharing.
- Supervised physical custody: This occurs when the court only allows you to visit with your child in the presence of a third party, such as a relative or friend. The court arranges this custody if they fear the parent might harm the child.
- Sole legal custody: If the court awards you this custody, you will have the right to make all major decisions about your child’s life, including education, medical care and religious upbringing. Usually, this is the custodial parent.
- Joint legal custody: This type of custody gives parents the right to share in making major decisions about their child’s life, but the custodial parent will always make the final decision. If the other parent never considers your recommendations, you can file a petition to modify this arrangement.
Pennsylvania child custody laws can be complex. If you are going through a divorce and have children, it is important to understand these laws and how they may affect your case.