When parents in Pennsylvania decide to divorce or break up, they may face a particularly challenging issue when it comes to determining custody of the children. In most cases, courts want children to have both parents as an active part of their upbringing, so long as there is no abuse or neglect involved. Therefore, a growing number of family courts prefer joint or shared custody, or, where this is not possible, primary custody with extensive visitation rights. In many cases, parents are encouraged to work together to develop a custody agreement and parenting plan for the court’s approval.
If parents cannot come to an agreement, they may ask the family court to make the decision about what custody agreement is in the best interests of the children. This may come about if negotiations fail, one parent later wants to change the child custody agreement or either parent files a formal motion to seek child custody. Most parents want to show the judge that they are a better parent, but judges are looking more for a solution that will reflect the interests and needs of the child. Again, in most cases, each parent will have, at the least, extensive visitation, especially if both parents have been an active part of the child’s life.
Family courts are not necessarily interested in things like discipline styles – again, outside of neglect or abuse – or involvement in the school. They are concerned about parents that block the other parent from seeing the children or try to poison the kids against the other parent.
When planning to go to court over child custody issues, it is important to emphasize those concerns that are of most concern to a judge. A family law attorney may help a parent to develop a case and present evidence to support their claims in a child custody dispute.