When the court attempts to fashion a custody order parents often try to argue for more custodial time by insisting that the child/children prefers to live with them as opposed to the other parent. This begs the question; is a court in Pennsylvania likely to consider a child's preference for one parent over the other?
The Pennsylvania custody statute does not define "in loco parentis," but Pennsylvania courts have found a person to stand in loco parentis to a child when they have taken on parental responsibilities and duties, with the consent of the biological parent. For example, in T.B. v. L.R.M., 753 A.2d 873 (Pa. 2001), the court implied that in loco parentis standing is granted for the benefit of the child, stating that if a "child has established strong psychological bonds with a person" that the child views that person with "a stature like that of a parent," the third party is provided "the opportunity to litigate fully the issue of whether that relationship should be maintained, even over a natural parent's objections."
Having the Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) involved with your child can be a scary experience for any parent. So why are Pennsylvania courts involved in some cases but not others? That can depend on a number of factors and the specifics of your case.
If you have a child custody order here in Pennsylvania, it's time to start thinking about the upcoming Christmas and New Years holidays. The holidays should be a time of fun, family, and delicious foods. Unfortunately, it can also be a stressful time and this stress can be compounded by the upcoming holiday season particularly if you are parent who is sharing custody of your children.
Were you holidays ruined because of a fight with your spouse or the lack of clarity in a custody schedule for your children? Did you pass on holiday parties to avoid having family and friends see the tension between you and your significant other? Are you ready to start fresh for 2017? Are you tired of fielding questions at the holiday dinner table about why you're never allowed to spend time with your family? Did you notice a present on the joint credit card statement that didn't end up under the tree this year? If any of this is true about you, it might be time to consider speaking to an attorney about a divorce or other family law proceeding. In a way, we suggest making it your New Year's resolution to give yourself a fresh start and a fresh outlook on life in 2017.
In our modern world, it is very rare that one parent works when the other does not. However, sometimes this issue occurs in a custody case. During the relationship or marriage, one parent stayed home to take care of the children or only worked part-time while other parent worked full time to provide for the family. Sometimes, the stay at home parent will assume that they are entitled to primary custody of the child or children because they are available more often to take care of the children. Although one of the considerations in a custody action is who is more likely to provide for the child's daily needs, and the court favors having parents provide care for children instead of third parties, the fact that one parent works, absent additional concerns will not bar them from sharing custody or even exercising primary custody of the child or children.
We have all heard the story of the evil step-mother, and when it comes to custody cases in Pennsylvania, often times one parent's new "paramour" causes tension and leads to litigation. Sometimes, as a result of hurt feelings, lingering resentment or lack of closure, one parent will use the other parent's new relationship as a scape-goat for the problems with custody and co-parenting. However, with the holiday season kicking into high gear, it is almost inevitable that people who have begun new relationships will want to introduce their new significant others to their families. This includes their children.
Recently a court in Massachusetts ruled that a rapist had the right to seek custody of the child conceived from the crime. Although it should be noted that this decision does not mean that the rapist will obtain custody of the child, the idea of having to go to court and fight for your rights against the the person who attacked you is a concern of people in Pennsylvania too. In Pennsylvania, the legislature has debated multiple laws to prevent or restrict rapists from obtaining custody of their children. Currently in Pennsylvania the parental rights of a rapist can be terminated if you are able to prove that a rape occurred to conceive the Child. However, there is no law officially barring a rapist from gaining custody of the product of their crime unless you are able to prove that a rape occurred.
As noted above, however, allowing a rapist to have rights to seek custody of a child does not in and of itself allow a rapist to have custody of the child. Even if they are permitted into the court system to seek custody of the child, the Best Interest of the Child would still apply, which means any criminal record or abuse that one parent has would be considered by the court. Because the standard of proof in Pennsylvania family court is the preponderance of the evidence, there is less of a burden to prove that these events occurred than there would be in a criminal court. Also, one of the things that the court takes into consideration when making a custody decision is the criminal record of both parents. Although this is not one of the statutory custody factors, that court requires that each parent submit a criminal and abuse history affidavit for themselves and their household, which requires them to disclose whether they have been convicted or plead guilty to any of thirty crimes that the legislature has determined may pose a threat to to children. If you have any further questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact our Pittsburgh office today!
The presumption for a physical custodyarrangement varies significantly depending on the distance between the parties and various other factors. However, in almost every custody arrangement, the parties will exercise shared legal custody. This means that both parents will be involved in making educational, financial, religious and medical decisions and allowed to access all documents related to these decisions. Usually the expectation is that unless there is an emergency, both parties will be involved in making these decisions and will keep each other updated about daily decisions.