Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged issues that Pennsylvania parents address when they choose to end their relationships and or marriages. As they consider arrangements that will split their children’s time between their home and that of their soon-to-be ex-partner, a parent may wonder just how decisions about custody are made by the courts. This post will introduce readers to custody-related provisions of Title 23 of the Statutes of Pennsylvania and how those provisions may impact child custody matters. This post provides no legal advice and all case-specific questions about child custody should be directed to knowledgeable Pennsylvania-based family law attorneys.
Child custody factors related to the actions of the parents
Even though child custody concerns the best interests of children, it is the manner in which their parents act and interact that gives courts’ information on how best to secure the futures of the kids. Courts look at 16 factors when making child custody decisions, including, but not limited to:
- The ability of the parents to create and maintain a loving home for the child
- The ability of the parents to cooperate and co-parent their child
- How close the parents will live to each other once their divorce is completed
- The ability of the parents to handle the child’s daily needs and requirements
A parent who is incapable of creating a safe of supportive home may have a difficult time building a case for the custody of their child.
Child custody factors related to abuse or harm
Courts take a serious look at the dangerous and detrimental behaviors of parents and how those behaviors impact their kids when making child custody determinations. For example, if a parent has a history of violence or abuse against family members, that will be considered by their family law court. Similarly, parents with drug and alcohol abuse problems may have to explain how their afflictions will not impact their parenting for the purposes of child custody planning.
Child custody factors related to the children
At the core of all child custody decisions is the goal of serving the children’s best interests. To the extent they are able, children can weigh in on their preferences for custody and courts can take those preferences under consideration. Children’s relationships with their family members, siblings, and communities can be considered, as can health and emotional needs that individual children have that are relevant to their care.
The facts of individual child custody cases can be vastly different, and for that reason it is not possible for readers to glean guidance from the contents of this post. State law provides broad instruction for how courts can evaluate the best interests of children for the purposes of determining their custody. Parents can advocate for their preferences and their children’s needs with the help of trusted family law attorneys.