Child Custody & Visitation
When couples make the decision to separate and divorce, they are usually saddened, hurt, ridden with guilt, and angry. Divorce is especially difficult for children since the structure of their lives is suddenly altered permanently. During this traumatic period, children require nurturance and support from their parents, but unfortunately, too often they become innocent victims of their parents’ conflicting emotions.
Muriel M. Ricker, LMFT, When the Walls Come Tumbling Down
We believe in Putting the Children First. Our goal at BFL is to ensure that children receive the greatest protection before, during, and after your divorce proceeding. When a family is in transition, children need stability. When parents are in turmoil, children need security; when love feels insecure, children need unconditional love.
We hope families can work out custody arrangements that are in the best interests of the child(ren), and we encourage our clients to do this. Sometimes this is not possible. When parents can’t agree on how they should parent, or where the children should live, a custody hearing may be necessary. If your case is contested, we will work our hardest for the best outcome. Always, however, we work with the best interests of the children as our guide.Child Custody Basics
In Pennsylvania as in all jurisdictions there are two types of overall Custody: Legal and Physical Custody. This custody applies only to any un-emancipated child (minor) under the age of eighteen.
Legal Custody is the legal right to make major decisions affecting the minor child. Major decisions involve questions around medical, religious, and educational matters, major activities and general welfare. Except where one parent is unable to participate in such decisions because he/she is mentally impaired, medically incapable, or otherwise unavailable, legal custody is almost always shared between parents.
Physical Custody is the actual physical possession and control of a child. It involves where the child will live day to day and who has physical proximity to the child. There are different levels and degrees of physical custody.
Visitation - This is the right to visit with a child. In certain circumstances supervised visits may visits may be required.
While equal physical custody (50/50) is what many parents believe they want, this is not always feasible or best for the child. Custody arrangements also may be modified as circumstances within the family change, or the needs and desires of a child or parent changes. Regardless of where a child(ren) resides, we encourage parents to co-parent in all situations where this is possible.PA Child Custody Guidelines
In 2011, Pennsylvania revised its’ Custody laws and enacted guidelines to help judges decide custody cases. The Guidelines provide 15 items that a decision maker must review before ruling in a contested custody case, The Guidelines are gender neutral and fact specific. If you have a custody matter it is wise to take a close look at the guidelines to see where your case might fall. A complete discussion of the PA Child Custody Guidelines can be found in our blog at www.mainlinepafamilylawblog.com