Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Factors a Pennsylvania Court Considers in Awarding Custody

By Lisa Marie Vari on Google+

A Pennsylvania Family Court Judge, or a Pittsburgh custody lawyer drafting a custody agreement, has many important factors to consider. Not only does the judge/attorney have to consider the statutory factors as defined in Pennsylvania, but the custody arrangement must be tailored based on the couple's and the children's wants and needs.

Pennsylvania law considers the following factors in making a custody determination:

  • Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party. This means that whichever parent is in the best position to facilitate the custody arrangement may be given more "weight" in the custody determination, as PA law wants to ensure that the custody arrangement, when finalized, is followed by all parties.
  • Present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child. The standard in Pennsylvania is based on the "best interests of the child," and the Court wants to place a child in a safe home free from abuse or the potential of abuse.
  • The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life. Each child is unique and may have different or special needs. Therefore, this factor is very dependent upon the circumstances of each case and the child's developmental and emotional state.
  • The availability of extended family, and the child's sibling relationship. The court wants to ensure that a child is surrounded by family members for support. This includes fostering a positive relationship between a child and his/her siblings.
  • The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment. If the child is old enough to express his/her opinion on their custody arrangement, this preference is considered when deciding on what is best for the child.

There are other factors that a Court will consider in awarding custody. Mostly, the best interests of the child(ren) is analyzed by applying the facts of each case to these specified statutory factors, and making a determination as to what is the best custody arrangement given the situation.

If you have questions about child custody in Pennsylvania, give us a call today!

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