Divorcing couples who have children will be required to come to an agreement regarding custody of the children. If they can’t come to an agreement, then the court will make the decision for them based on what they see as being in the best interest of the children. Regardless of whether you and your spouse agree on the issue of child custody, hiring a child custody lawyer to protect your rights is vital.
In Janury of 2011, Pennsylvania’s Custody law was completely revised. Under the new law, it now lays out specifically what a court must evaluate when determining what is in the best interest of the child in determining Custody disputes. It is very important to have an attorney who is intimately familiar with this law and can educate their client on how best to present their case to the court. Child Custody matters are perhaps the most serious type of case that a court can decide. As a result, you need counsel that you can work with to best present your case to the court.
There are several different options for child custody, and a lawyer can help you determine what is best for the children and yourself. One option for child custody is joint custody. With joint custody, both parents share custody of the children. This is where each parent will have custody 50% of the time, or as close to that arrangement as possible A parent may be awarded the status of primary custodial parent, which means that they have physical custody of the children more than 50% of the time. The parent having less than 50% is considered to have partial physical custody.
If one of the parents is determined to be unfit, such as in the case of an alcoholic or drug addict, then the other parent may be awarded sole physical custody of the child. Visitation is usually restricted to agreed upon times under supervision. This is the only circumstance where it is common for the custodial parent to get sole legal custody of the children as well, which essentially removes all parental rights from the parent who has been declared unfit. If the parent who has been declared unfit later becomes better able to care for the children, then a child custody lawyer might be able to get some rights restored to the parent.
Regardless of your wishes it is essential to meet with your lawyer early and often to devise a roadmap that you can both follow from your beginning custodial wishes to your goal whereby a Court order can be obtained and your rights solidified.