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Pennsylvania child custody reflects child's best interests

When a couple decides to divorce, they may be justifiably focused on their own confusion and hurt feelings. If children are involved, the issues become even more complex. Because high emotions may sometimes blind a parent to the immediate and long-term needs of the children, courts in Pennsylvania and across the country rely on a set of standards when making child custody decisions.

While best interest standards are not global, other countries, such as Hong Kong, are putting into place criteria similar to those in the United States. For example, U.S. courts may look at the physical and mental health of the parents as well as their emotional stability. Practical issues are examined, such as finances and whether a parent can provide appropriate space for the child. If the child has little contact with a parent before the divorce, or if there is a history of domestic violence, these may affect a custody decision.

Courts may also examine the preference of a child who is older and more mature. However, parents are cautioned not to turn a custody battle into a competition. Parents are advised to consider how their actions will affect the child's bond with themselves, the other parent and the child's future relationships. 

The purpose of every child custody decision is to provide the child with the best opportunity for happiness, security, and overall well-being when the divorce is over. Couples who work together to make this happen may have the best chances for positive results. Those parents in Pennsylvania who are concerned about the welfare of their children as they go through a divorce often consult their attorneys who can provide valuable resources for this very emotional time.

Source:, "Divorce Confidential: Children And The 'Best Interests' Standard", Caroline Choi, June 28, 2016

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