Determining the division of child custody rights is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce. Divorce and family law varies between states, which is why consulting with a local Pennsylvania family lawyer is an important step in understanding and protecting your parental rights. Learn more about Pennsylvania child custody law below:
Types of Custody: Child custody is divided into two components: physical and legal. Physical custody involves maintaining the physical well-being of a child, whereas legal custody entails a parent’s right to make legal decisions concerning items such as education, medical care, extracurricular activities, and future planning. The criteria for determining a parent’s physical and/or legal custody varies between different types of child custody arrangements:
o Sole Custody
Sole custody designates one parent as a custodial parent, allowing him or her to spend the most time with the child and make major decisions. Barring extenuating circumstances, the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent are generally preserved.
o Joint Custody
Joint custody, or shared custody, allows both parents an equal agency in making major decisions for the child (if a compromise is unable to be reached, then a family lawyer behaving as a mediator is recommended). Joint custody can refer exclusively to either legal or physical custody, or a combination of the two.
Factors in Determining/Denying Custody
Family law behaves in the best interests of the child, which usually involves maintaining the custodial rights of both parents. However, factors such as verbal or physical abuse, a failure to provide a safe environment, and failure to meet child support or other legal obligations are all grounds for denying a parent’s custodial rights.
Despite these general guidelines, it is important to remember that child custody cases are ultimately at the discretion of the judge once they proceed to family court. Fox and Fox Attorneys at Law, P.C. of Norristown has been serving Pennsylvania residents for more than 85 years. Visit us online to read our satisfied client reviews and call (610) 275-7990 to schedule a free professional consultation today.
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