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Pennsylvania child custody basics

State laws regarding child custody matters are always evolving. While changes are generally made for a good cause, it can also make things confusing for those who are trying to understand how the system works. This week's column will give a brief overview of the current child custody laws in Pennsylvania.

There are two types of custody that are recognized by the state -- sole and joint. Sole custody may be granted to one parent for a number of reasons; however, when possible, courts are leaning toward joint custody arrangements. When children have a strong relationship with both of their parents, it is believed that a shared custody plan will be of benefit to their emotional well-being.

A custody plan can be figured out through private negotiations or by court determination. If parents come up with their own agreement, it will still require court approval before it is put into effect. If a custody case goes to court, arrangements will be created on what the judge feels serves the best interest of the affected child. In order to do this several factors will be considered, including:

  • Parent/child relationship
  • Living arrangements
  • History of violence or drug/alcohol abuse
  • Child's preference -- considered when a child reaches a certain age

The majority of parents in Pennsylvania want to do what is best for their children. The problem is, not all parents will agree on what that actually means. This can cause issues when trying to figure out a child custody case. With the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, parents can take the step necessary to achieve custody plans that truly fit the needs of their families.

Source: FindLaw, "Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws", Accessed on April 10, 2017

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