Child Custody in Lancaster, PA
We understand that a child custody battle is a personal and highly emotional issue. This is why we’re so passionate about connecting you with Lancaster, Pennsylvania professionals that will help you fight for your rights as a parent.
What Is Child Custody?
When two parents separate, they must decide on how their children spend time between them. Child custody refers to the right of either or both parents to provide a home for their children and exercise parental rights. In Lancaster, PA not all child custody cases go to court, but when they do, courts make their decisions based on what they think is most beneficial for the child.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
There are three main types of arrangements that can occur. These include full custody, sole custody, and joint custody. In Pennsylvania, the Court of Common Pleas handles child custody. If you live in Lancaster, you will typically have your child custody case handled by the Domestic Relations Division of the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas.
What Is Full Custody?
In a full custody arrangement, one parent receives the majority of the parenting time and maintains physical custody. In most instances, this person also makes the majority of the decisions about the child’s upbringing and has control over decisions related to health, education, and religion. The parent awarded full custody is the primary custodial parent.
Pennsylvania Statutes dictate that the court will not give preference in full custody decisions in Lancaster based upon gender. Factors considered include the child’s wishes, and which parent is more likely to encourage contact between the child and the other parent. Additionally, the need for stability in the child’s education, family life, and community life will be considered.
To modify an existing custody order, you can file a Petition for Modification with the court that issued the original order. Of note, the court cannot change a custody order while one parent is absent due to military duty. However, the court is permitted to enter a temporary custody order while the parent is deployed.
Even when children only live with one parent, the other parent still has the opportunity to be a part of their lives. The custodial parent may allow visiting time or the children may spend a few weekends with the non-custodial parent. In some instances, a parent awarded full custody might still maintain joint custody in practice with their partner for the benefit of the children.
What Is Sole Custody?
Most people do not differentiate between one parent getting the overwhelming majority of the parenting time or rights and sole custody. However, it is important to note the possibility of some parents getting no parenting time or rights at all. The court will provide one parent with sole physical custody if the other parent is deemed an unfit parent.
In some cases, the court may go as far as to terminate the rights of the other parent. This may occur if the parent gets convicted of particular crimes that might endanger a child. An example is child abuse or inappropriate sexual conduct with a child. Pennsylvania state laws vary on what might result in parental termination.
What Is Joint Custody?
Joint custody describes the arrangement where both parents of the child split physical custody. When parents share equal custody, the child may spend a week or two on and off with either parent. Some families in Lancaster, Pennsylvania also practice “nesting”, where both parents move in and out of the home the child lives in when it is their turn to have custody.
Lancaster judges will typically consider joint custody before deciding that one parent should be the primary physical custodian. Other factors outlined by Pennsylvania law that affect this decision include the availability of extended family, and how close the parents’ homes are. In addition, the level of conflict between the parties and their ability to cooperate with one another are both deemed relevant. Any history of domestic violence or substance abuse will be weighed heavily by the court.
In many joint custody arrangements, one parent may retain complete responsibility. This is for any major decisions that have to be made in regard to the well-being of the child. Also, joint custody does not always mean an equal sharing of time. In most instances, one parent still retains primary custody. In these cases, they may hold the larger portion of a 60/40 time split.
The Factors Courts Consider When Making a Decision
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania full custody is often awarded when one parent isn’t able to contribute to the responsibilities with raising the child. For example, if a parent is physically incarcerated, doesn’t have financial stability, or is involved in situations that may potentially hurt the child, the court may grant one parent full or sole custody due to the circumstances.
On the other hand, joint custody is often provided to the parents. Both parents assume the responsibilities that one needs to raise a healthy and happy child. Both parents need to be able to work together to maintain consistent communication and follow the directions of the court. Sometimes parents do not work well together. Then the court is sometimes more likely to award one parent the majority of the parenting time to reduce friction.
With Lancaster joint custody cases, both parents need to coordinate resources and activities to support the needs of the child. The situation of your custody arrangements might vary. There may be supervised custody arrangements for one parent. Another option is a public meeting place for the child to be picked up and dropped off with the other parent.
The Basics of the Child Custody Process
Custody arrangements in Lancaster, Pennsylvania are often subject to family court orders and decisions. However, this is not always the case. Even when the split is amicable, hiring a child custody lawyer can help. Navigate the troubled waters of your custody battle with legal help. Many parents are able to come together to find a solution that works well for the child. Oftentimes without needing to involve the court system.
In Lancaster, you are generally required to attend child custody mediation prior to any hearing before a judge. You will typically work with a court-appointed mediator to work out a mutually acceptable custody agreement. Additionally, the Lancaster County Court provides a mandatory Focus on Children educational seminar. This four-hour seminar educates parents about the needs of children who are in a custody action.
Working with a Lancaster custody lawyer as a mediator can help to advise you on the best type of custody arrangement that would work for the unique requirements and needs of your child. Hire an experienced child custody lawyer to help you better understand your rights as a parent and avoid costly mistakes.
Work With an Experienced Lancaster, Pennsylvania Child Custody Lawyer
A child custody battle is a difficult and frustrating process. This is worse when there is animosity between you and the other parent. A Lancaster lawyer that specializes in this area can help to explain the entire process of the child custody battle and can help to make a positive impact on your case whether they mediate the arrangement or defend one party.
Hire a dedicated and passionate child custody attorney in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Your chances of seeing a custody agreement and visitation rights that are favorable for you will be much more likely. If you’re looking to hire an experienced child custody lawyer to help you understand your rights as a parent, you’ve come to the right place.
The attorneys we connect people with can increase your chances of getting the arrangement you seek, even in complex cases. Connect with an experienced lawyer in your area today. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Pennsylvania state lines.
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