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Issues that are considered in child custody decisions

When matters of child custody are decided in courts in Pennsylvania, judges take many factors into consideration. Doing what is best for the child is always the goal, so consideration will be given to living conditions, the financial situations of the parents, relationships with siblings and the stability of the parents' jobs and lifestyles.

When examining the stability of the parents, judges take into consideration how often they change jobs or move into a new home. Judges tend to favor stable living conditions for children. Often after divorce, children undergo the stress of either moving or staying in the same home but seeing a parent move out. The court will consider the impact of a child having to move frequently in the future if he or she were to live with a parent who is likely to move frequently due to changing jobs or other circumstances.

When multiple children are involved in a child custody case, it is often considered best for siblings to stay together. But in some cases, it could be better to separate them. A judge will consider the relationships between the siblings as well as the relationships between the children and parents.

In some cases, the court might appoint an advocate who will observe the parent-child relationships in each parent's homes and then help the judge make a custody decision. If there is any history of abuse in a home, it is unlikely that the abusive parent will gain custody of the children.

Under Pennsylvania law, a parent who has sole custody of a child cannot move with the child out of the area without approval from the other parent or the court. A parent who wishes to move with his or her child must follow a procedure for giving notice. The other parent has the right to object to the move. When the parents disagree about relocating a child, the court will decide.

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