Few areas of the law can cause more anxiety and heartache than custody disputes. Pennsylvania law is clear—where both parents are competent caregivers, the Courts should try to work out a shared custody arrangement. “Legal custody” means the right to participate in important decisions in the child’s life like those relating to their health, education, and general welfare. “Physical custody” means how much time the child spends with each parent in that parent’s home.
The Courts will look to determine which custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests, and is not governed by what each parent thinks he or she has “earned.” In most cases, a reasonable schedule where the child gets to be with each parent on a regular weekly basis is the preferred and likely outcome, with the parents both sharing “legal custody.”
With the help of the family lawyers at Timoney Knox, you can work out a schedule that ranges from one week in each house to alternating the allocation of weekdays and weekends on a rotating basis. When there’s a big geographical distance the arrangement can be harder to make but still can be worked out to allow each parent significant time with their children.
Sometimes existing custody arrangements aren’t working. Can they be changed? Yes, either by negotiating a new arrangement or applying to court to have an earlier custody order changed to meet new circumstances. As children age, their own preferences might change as well. Parents need to be prepared for this, and the family lawyers at Timoney Knox can help.
Sometimes grandparents can be involved in custody disputes, and in certain instances can apply to the court for help in getting an award of custody (when a parent has died or cannot care for the children) or when a child is living with them rather than with their parents.