Child Custody Basics
Figuring out who will have custody of the children involved in a divorce proceeding can be incredibly stressful, especially at a time where emotions are running high. There are so many factors to consider, including where the children will live, who will make the important decisions in their lives, and what the children themselves may want. So what kind of custody arrangement is right for you?
There are two main kinds of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody deals with where the child resides and who spends time with the child. This can be broken down into: 1) full custody, where the child lives more than half of the time with one parent, 2) shared custody, where each parent spends significant time with the child, and 3) sole custody, where the child lives with one parent all of the time. If the relationship is particularly contentious, supervised custody may be necessary. This is where one parent can spend time with the child under the supervision of third party, as determined by the court.
Legal custody, on the other hand, determines who makes the decisions for the child. This can be either sole or shared, and both have their positive and negative aspects. If the parents have a good relationship, it can be beneficial to the child to have both their input. However, if one parent is dangerous, or is found to be unfit to care for the child, sole legal custody will protect the child from any negative influences.
Which Will I Get?
Determining custody depends on a variety of factors, but as always, family law focuses on the best interests of the child. In Pennsylvania, courts look into all aspects of the parents’ lives to decide which type of custody is best. This can include what each parent does to take care of the child on a daily basis, the extended family nearby, the availability and need for child care on each side, the parent’s relationship with each other, the parent’s relationship with the child, if there is a history of substance abuse for either parent, the child’s relationship with any siblings on either side, and, if the child is old enough, the preferences of the child.
As of October 2019, Bucks County, PA also looks at another factor. Now, courts will treat a parent’s past violent and criminal behavior as a factor that is as important as those listed above. This comes from a recently introduced piece of legislation emphasizing the need to protect children’s safety in custody decisions, sparked after the death of Kayden Mancuso. Mancuso was killed by her father while visiting him during a custody dispute between her parents. Mancuso’s mother had previously had a restraining order against him. Kayden’s Law now hopes to include past domestic violence and abuse claims as factors in a custody hearing to prevent such a tragic crime from occurring again.
Let Us Help You Today
These factors will help the court determine what the best fit is for your family, depending on your situation. If you are in need of an experienced attorney to assist in your custody case, contact the Bucks County family attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We can help you figure out the details and ease the stress of this trying time.