In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, custody orders between parents who are no longer or not together are an absolute must when protecting yourself and your child.
Even if you and the other parent have an informal custody agreement, neither one of you have to abide by this. This means, if you have both verbally agreed to alternate every week and the other parent decides to keep the child one week, they are technically not breaking the law. This is one reason a custody order is very important. If you had a formal custody order stating this arrangement, you could hold the other parent in contempt for denying you access to your child.
It is also common for people to think that by filing for custody will mean they may end up seeing their child less. Especially in cases where the parents have working informal custody arrangements, there should be little to no change at all. In Allegheny County, the custody process starts with an educational seminar and is quickly followed by a mediation through the Generations program. In this mediation, individuals are encouraged to work out their own schedule with the help of a mediator. If the parties can agree on a schedule, then the mediation agreement can become a final order of court through the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County. Therefore, the time you see your child should not change if you and the other parent can easily agree on times that work. The court will play no part in this decision unless the parties cannot agree on a schedule.
It is also important to remember that the custody complaint should be filed in the county where the child has lived for the past six months. Therefore, if the child has resided in Allegheny County for the past six months, the child custody complaint should be filed at the Generations window on the first floor of the Court of Common Pleas, Family Division in downtown Pittsburgh.