What Factors Does The Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?
In Pennsylvania, there are several factors that the court considers when determining whether primary or joint physical and/or legal custody of children will be awarded. In all cases, these determinations are guided by what is in the children’s best interest. Section 5328 of the Pennsylvania Code says that in ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interests of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child, including which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other party, any present or past abuse committed by a party or a member of the party’s household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party, which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child, and which parent has performed the parental duties on behalf of the child.
If one parent has essentially been doing mostly everything for the child, then that would be a big factor in t determining which parent receives primary custody. Stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and community life will also be considered, as well as the mental and physical condition of the party or a member of the party’s household.
There are two kinds of custody, legal and physical. Legal custody has to do with decision-making in terms of education, medical treatment, and religion. In intact family units, this type of custody is always shared, even if one parent tends to defer to the other. When parents live in separate households, legal custody becomes more of an issue, particularly if one parent has substance abuse or mental health issues. Physical custody has to do with where the child will primarily reside. In Pennsylvania, physical custody is determined by the number of overnights in a two-week period. If one parent has eight overnights in a consecutive two-week period and the other parent six nights, then the parent who has eight would be considered the primary physical custodian. Visitation is the most restrictive form of physical custody and typically requires that the time spent with the child is spent in a specific location. In many cases, visitation is supervised, which means that there is another person there at all times.
Is There An Age Where A Child Can Give Input Into His Or Her Custody Situation?
The well-reasoned preference of a child based on the child’s maturity and judgment is a factor that will be considered when determining custody. Typically, the older the child, the more weight their input is given by the court in determining their best interests.
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