Parents in Pennsylvania who are not granted child custody are usually given visitation rights. In the majority of cases, the courts prefer to have both parents actively involved in the lives of their children even if they determine that the children may be better served residing with one of the parents for the majority of the time. However, parents who are denied custody should understand why and what type of rights they have regarding visitation.
The primary focus of the court is the make decisions that are in the best interests of the children. If the court determines that one parent cannot have custody, it does not always mean that the court believes their home is not suitable. The courts tend to favor awarding physical custody to the parent who has acted as the children's primary caregiver. They may also determine that it would not be in the best interest of the child to be constantly shuttled between two locations.
To learn why the court ruled against a request for physical custody, the denied parent should examine the court's written ruling. They may also benefit from studying the child custody laws that are relevant in the jurisdiction in which they reside.
Visitation rights are normally granted at the child custody hearing. The courts in many jurisdictions will have a formal visitation schedule that detail the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. Visitation can be granted for weekends, a couple of nights a week, holidays, alternate weekends and summer vacations.
A family law attorney may consider a parent's circumstances and \advise them of their child custody options. The attorney may be able to litigate to protect the interests and rights of clients during child custody disputes, such as those regarding legal custody and changes in visitation terms.