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

Child Custody Archives

Can I File a Custody Action in Pennsylvania?

How Will the Indian Child Welfare Act Impact My Custody Case in Pennsylvania?

Modifying recent custody orders

Invariably, when a custody matter has to be heard by the court, at least one party is going to be unhappy with the outcome. Generally speaking, if one disagrees with a court order, the method by which to redress the complaints is to ask the court to reconsider the order, or to take an appeal of the order. If one fails to do either of these within a specified period of time after the order is entered, then one loses the ability to raise his or her complaints with the order.

Shared Custody: Iowa Bill Requires Equal Custody Time to Parents in Pending Divorce Actions

A proposed bill that has been passed in the Iowa House of Representatives will require judges to grant shared custody to parents going through divorce proceedings unless the court finds it is in the best interest of the child. The bill's proponents argues that the bill is a much needed update to out-of-date laws that don't place mothers and fathers on equal footing in divorce and custody proceedings. If passed, the new law would represent a substantial modification to initial custody cases.

Bristol Palin's Custody Case and the Presumption for Shared Physical Custody in the United States

Alaska courts issued their second custody order regarding Bristol Palin's children today. Ms. Palin, the daughter of former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was ordered to exercise shared custody of her daughter, Sailor Grace with her Medal of Honor recipient former fiancé, Dakota Meyer. Earlier this year, a similar order was issued regarding Palin's older son Tripp, which granted the child's father, Levi Johnson, shared custody of the child. Although some people exalt this decision as a "loss" for Palin, who had previously exercised full or primary legal and physical custody of her children, this decision is all too common across the county as states increasingly favor shared physical custody.

Pennsylvania Grandparent Custody Statute Challenged in Westmoreland County

On September 18, 2015, Judge Smail of the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas determined that a portion of the statute providing partial custody rights to Grandparents is unconstitutional. Duane Ponko & Bernadette Ponko vs. Gregory Ponko and Angela Ponko concerned divorced co-parents of three children, who made a decision together to discontinue paternal grandparents' contact with their grandchildren. Subsequently, the grandparents chose to initiate a custody complaint pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 5325(2) which provides standing to grandparents seeking partial custody of children whose parents have been separated for a minimum of six months.

Landmark Custody Ruling for Lesbian Couple

Sole versus shared legal custody in Pennsylvania

 Pennsylvania permits varying degrees of physical custody: Supervised custody, partial custody, shared custody, primary custody, and sole custody. Legal custody, however, defined as "the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious, and educational decisions," may only be shared or sole. Shared legal custody requires the parents to cooperate to make these decisions for their children, effectively giving each parent a veto over the wishes of the other parent. The lengths to which sole legal custody extend was explored by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2012 in a case called M.P. v. M.P.

To be Or Not to be? The Complications of Reproductive Technology in Family Law Cases

Family law lawyers are used to battling over custody of children to a point that some of the most extreme cases almost become typical. However, family law and custody is reaching into a new frontier as reproductive technology develops and changes further expanding the definition of children and ultimately the purview of the custody attorney. Leaving the personhood debate aside as it is a more appropriate conversation for our legislators, as reproductive technology expands, family law lawyers and litigants are forced to ask tough questions about whether the division of eggs, sperm and embryos is an appropriate subject for the custody trial or if it's more aptly an issue of property distribution (which complicates the issue for unmarried couples who don't have pending equitable distribution trials).

From the Mouths of Babes: Keeping the Best Kids in Mind During Divorce and Custody Cases

"Try not to be that high up to be friends, I want everything to be low, OK? Just try your best...I want you and my dad to be in a place that's settled and be friends." This very mature sounding quotes comes from the mouth of a young six-year old girl wearing a pink fuzzy bunny t-shirt in a recent viral video. This video was captured by Tiana's mother, who is currently engaged in a tumultuous family law proceeding with the child's Father. Cherish Sherry, Tiana's mother, said that this speech from her daughter brought her to tears and reminded her what was most important in all of this, her daughter. Though this video has now gotten tens of thousands of views on Youtube and other websites across the internet, for the family law practitioners amount us, it reminds us that despite how volatile divorce and custody cases can be, the kids are the most important part, and Pennsylvania law backs this up.