Our PA family lawyers often get questions about how a PA family court determines the amount of child custody that each parent receives. Therefore, here are some answers to some questions that we frequently are asked:
•1. What kinds of child custody are there? There are two primary types of child custody: physical and legal custody. Physical custody is the time that the child physically resides with the parent. Physical custody can be shared (with each party getting substantial time), primary (getting a majority of time), partial (getting a smaller amount of time than primary), and visitation (supervised visitation, meaning that the parent is with the child in an agreed upon place with another party present, and unsupervised visitation, which is time at an agreed upon location without third party supervision). Legal custody is the ability to make decisions for the child. These two types of custody are awarded separately.
•2. Mom is going to get all of the custody time! The court will award child custody based on a set of factors that it is required by law to consider. Some of these considerations include the residence of each party, the amount of time that each party spent with the children before the separation, the stability of each party's household, and the likelihood that the parent will attempt to foster the child's relationship with the other parent, among many others. If the court finds that more of the factors favor one parent, then they may get more custody time. However, the court is more and more favoring shared custody arrangements (roughly equal
"quality" time) for each party.
•3. Will I never get to see my kids ? Awarding sole custody (with only one party getting custody rights) is extremely rare. Even in the most seemingly negative circumstances, in which one party has substance abuse problems or is incarcerated, the court will generally award at least visitation rights. If the issue is between the parents, and both parents have a relationship with the children, then both parents will receive some amount of child custody time.
•4. What can I do if he doesn't give the kids back? Many people believe that they can work out child custody between themselves, on some kind of week on/week off, or work week/weekends arrangement. In some cases, this may be true. However, if one person does not comply with the custody schedule, then both sides will have to go to court and get a custody order. By having a court order, then the court will enforce the custody order, and both sides will get their custody time. With a custody order in place, if one party does not comply, then the other party can get a contempt Order from the Court, and will be granted make-up time and potentially other sanctions.
If you have any questions about your child custody case, contact our team of knowledgeable Pittsburgh child custody attorneys today!