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.
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.
With the whirlwind of publicity surrounding Caitlyn (formerly "Bruce") Jenner's coming out as transgender, the often overlooked issue of transgendered individuals and transgender children in particular has become hot topic. Of specific importance in the family law community are issues including transgender children's access to resources, support and facilities they need. This can become especially trying for families going through divorce and custody litigation in addition to struggling to adjust to life with a transgender child.
Beginning the process of obtaining custody of a minor child can be a very confusing time for parents. Courts often use terms that have very specific legal meanings. It is important to ask for the right things when filing for custody, but this can be difficult if a parent does not know what exactly to ask for.