Central PA Premier Family Law Firm

How Is Custody Decided in Pennsylvania? [Infographic]


A Guide to Child Custody in Pennsylvania

As parents prepare to divorce in Pennsylvania, many wonder how their child support will be awarded. Our team at Statt Law explains some important factors to consider.

What is Physical Custody?

Physical custody denotes the parent with whom a child spends or lives the majority of their time. Physical custody can be shared between parents, or deemed for one parent, but sole physical custody is rare.

What is Legal Custody?

Child custody refers to the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child. Legal custody awards the right to make decisions for the child and can be awarded to one parent or both parents.

Factors That Help Decide Child Custody

The Pennsylvania family court makes decisions based on what is best for the child. The court will want to know as much as possible about the family dynamics, health, and wellness of the parents, as well as their relationship with the children. When deciding custody, they will look into the following factors:

  • The desire of the child.
  • The work schedule of each parent.
  • Past abuse allegations against each parent.
  • The parental duties performed by each parent.
  • The level of conflict between parents.
  • The criminal records of each parent.
  • The ability of each parent to sustain a nurturing relationship.

Having a skilled family law attorney on your side during this difficult time can make the process easier. Our team of attorneys can help build the best defense for your case, ensuring the rights to your custody.

When is Custody Decided?

The Pennsylvania family court system is trifurcated, which means it is divided into three parts. Parents can therefore bring up child custody orders as part of their divorce proceedings or independently. A couple can enter mediation to come to an agreement, but if they are not able to, custody must be awarded when a judge hears their case.

Our team can help you work with your co-parent and help resolve any custody battle.

Can I Make Modifications to My Child Custody Order?

Yes. Either parent can begin the process of modifying their child custody order at any time. However, a judge will only award a modification under substantial life circumstances, such as:

  • A long-distance move.
  • A loss of housing.
  • A parent is sent overseas for military duty.
  • A parent is arrested and sentenced to serve time in prison.
  • A parent is proven to be abusive to their child.
  • A change in a parent's ability to care for the child full-time or part-time.

Child Custody Attorneys in Central PA

Whether it is a simple and amicable divorce or one you are sure will be contentious, navigating the legal process can be easy.

At Statt Law, we understand how difficult it is for people facing the end of their marriage to arrange their child custody. Whether you’re in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster, Cumberland, or any other Central Pennsylvania county, we are dedicated to offering the best service to help you navigate these challenging times.

To book your consultation, contact our office at (717) 537-0928 or visit us online.