Child Custody Lawyer in Lancaster PA
During divorce proceedings, child custody issues may emerge and a custody complaint filing ensues. A Petition for Modification may be filed if a child Custody Order has already been entered.
Legal custody is defined as the right to make major decisions affecting the best interest of a minor child including, but not limited to, medical, religious, and educational decisions. Physical custody is defined as the actual physical possession and control of a child. Typically, one parent has primary physical custody (custody for the majority of the time) and the other parent has partial physical custody. Parents may also agree to “shared physical custody” which assures the child has frequent and continuing contact with and physical access to both parents.
Child Custody Factors
If the parties cannot agree on custody issues, the Court must determine the best interest of the child by considering all relative factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child.
Some of the factors considered are:
- The preference of the child as well as any other factor which legitimately impacts the child’s physical, intellectual and emotional well-being.
- Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the non-custodial parent.
- Whether there is a history of past violent or abusive conduct of a parent or a parent’s household member.
- The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child. The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life.
- The availability of extended family.
- The child’s sibling relationships.
- The proximity of the residences of the parties.
- Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.
- The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household.
The above list is not exhaustive. No party may receive preference based upon gender.
After considering all factors, the Court may award any of the following types of custody:
- Shared physical custody
- Primary physical custody
- Partial physical custody
- Sole physical custody
- Supervised physical custody
- Shared legal custody
- Sole legal custody
A child may not relocate unless every individual who has custody rights to the child consents to the proposed relocation or the Court approves the proposed relocation. Notice must be given by the party proposing the relocation to every other individual who has custody rights to the child. If a party files an objection to a proposed relocation, a hearing must be held and the Court will determine whether the relocation will serve the best interest of the child after considering a number of factors.
In some instances, a relative such as a grandparent or a person who stands in loco parentis may have standing to pursue physical or legal custody of a child. In every situation, the Court considers the best interest of the child.
Devine Law Offices is particularly sensitive to the emotional and safety issues that arise in custody actions and will advocate on your behalf through the legal system.