When Pennsylvania parents of young children go through a divorce, the family court will require a written parenting plan that describes the child custody schedule. People either reach terms for splitting the care of children through negotiation or litigation. Unmarried parents should also go through the process of establishing a court-approved child custody plan. After recognition by a court, the plan becomes a court order, which allows either parent to use the legal system to correct violations by the other party.
Any biological parent has the right to obtain a formal visitation or custody agreement. The principle that children benefit from the attention of both parents guides family courts, and a judge might only prevent access to children if evidence shows that the contact would harm them.
To create a custody agreement, both parents make decisions about who has the children and when. Other considerations such as schooling, health care and religion should be addressed as well within the document. If the parents can agree on terms, then they can submit the plan to the court. When disputes cannot be overcome privately, then one or both of the parents need to petition the court and request desired terms. A judge will structure the plan based largely on what would be best for the children.
A parent who wants legal advice while setting up a child custody plan could gain information from a family law attorney. Explanations of parental rights might suffice to help a person make decisions during negotiations with the other parent. In most cases, parents might be happier with a plan that is negotiated rather than having a judge make the determinations.