Divorce is one of the most difficult and complicated things people have to go through in life. When children are involved, it often becomes a roller coaster ride of emotions, doubts, fears, and decisions. What effect will this have on the kids? What will my relationship with them be like after this? What will their future look like when everything is over?
Having been a trusted family law office here in Pittsburgh, PA for a long time, Voelker Kairys & Morris knows just how difficult situations such as divorce can be for everyone involved. This is why we make sure to give the best legal support and service possible. Our team of competent, compassionate, and experienced attorneys are ready to help you understand and navigate the intricacies of sensitive legal matters such as divorce, child support, child custody, father’s rights, and parental responsibility.
If you’re going through divorce here in Pennsylvania and are struggling with matters like child custody, our Pittsburgh-based family law firm can help you navigate the complex process through detailed research, honest answers, practical advice, and fierce court representation. Voelker Kairys & Morris is here for you!
Types of Pennsylvania Child Custody
Child custody is a court decision as to which parent will be responsible for the care, custody, and control of their child. The court can make specific decisions about which parent the child resides with, how much time each parent spends with their children, and who gets to make decisions on behalf of the children.
Here in the state of Pennsylvania, there are several types of custody arrangements that can be chosen depending on the circumstances of the parents, the best interests of the child as well as other factors.
Who gets custody of the child?
Well, that depends. Primary custody is when one parent has complete authority to make certain decisions that affect the best interests of the child or has physical custody of the child for the majority of the time. Shared custody is when the child has frequent, continuing contact and physical access to both parents. This means that both parents get to have access with the child in equal or close-to-equal lengths of time. The amount of time each parent is allotted is determined based on many factors, and is always focused on the best interests of the child or children.
What does custody include?
More than who gets to have custody of the child, it’s also important for the court to determine what each parent is allowed to do with their child and the extent of authority they have over them. This is where the terms legal custody and physical custody come in.
Having legal custody over one’s child means having the right to make decisions (medical, educational, religious, etc.) for and on behalf of their child. In cases of shared legal custody, each parent has decision-making authority but they must also allow the other parent to exercise the same authority. The goal is to make the best decisions for the child’s future and to ensure that the child’s needs are met.
Having physical custody over one’s child means having the right to have physical possession of them (to reside with them). In cases of joint physical custody, the parent with primary physical custody is the custodial parent while the other enjoys shared physical custody as the non-custodial parent. This means that both parents have equal or similar physical time spent with their children. Though legal custody and rights of access may be granted to the non-custodial parent, day-to-day decisions for the child are left to the discretion of the primary custodial parent.
Child custody is a complicated matter and understandably so—the state wants only the best for every child’s future in the same way parents do. When it comes to your child’s custody, you will need to show up in hearings equipped with a solid plan. Whether you’re fighting to get custody of your child/children, need modification to existing custody arrangements, or want to understand how custody will factor into your divorce settlement, Voelker Kairys & Morris is here to help you. We can even help grandparents and step-parents seeking custody.
Determining Child Custody Agreements
In the state of Pennsylvania, the most important factor to consider when determining child custody is the best interest of the child. Before the court makes any decision, it will carefully look into all possible elements that have a physical, moral, intellectual, and spiritual impact on the child. Some of the factors that PA courts consider are:
The Child's Relationships
This includes their relationships with each parent, as well as with biological siblings, half-siblings, step-siblings, adopted siblings, extended family, etc. The parents’ relationship with each other is also considered.
Possible Violence of Abuse at Home
Domestic violence and any form of abuse (alcohol, substance, etc.) are matters of great concern to the court. If the courts find signs of these in the home or among the parents, it can make a decision that ensures the safety and well-being of the child through protective orders that may be awarded on an emergency basis.
The Parents’ Ability to Provide Competent Care
The court makes sure that each parent who gets custody of the child has the physical and mental capacity to properly and competently care for the child. Factors or aspects that show otherwise may be brought before the court.
The Child's Preferences
Depending on the child’s age, maturity, and ability to make sound decisions, the court may consider where and how the child wants to live in its final decision.
When it comes to deciding child custody, there are numerous factors that the court may consider when deciding child custody. Whether you’re looking to get custody or contesting it, Voelker Kairys & Morris and our team of family lawyers are here to give you the help that you need.
Pittsburgh Family Law Attorneys
Voelker Kairys & Morris has been a trusted family law firm for many years now, so we know just how difficult it is to find a solution to legal concerns when you’re going through difficult and emotionally charged circumstances. We want you to know that you don’t have to deal with all that alone. Our competent attorneys here at Voelker Kairys & Morris are ready, willing, and able to work with you in attaining the legal outcome that will secure your child’s welfare and protect your parental rights.
Whether you need help with your divorce, child support, child custody, or father’s rights, Voelker Kairys & Morris is here for you. Not only do we specialize in Pittsburgh family law cases, we are also committed to providing experienced, competent, and ethical legal counsel to all our clients. If you’re looking for compassionate counsel and fierce representation in all of your family law matters, the lawyers at Voelker Kairys & Morris are here to assist you.
We look forward to being your partner in safeguarding your role as a parent and in maintaining your relationship with your child.