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Child Custody & Visitation
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Some of the most important changes include the consideration by the court of criminal convictions when a parent seeks any form of custody, specific relocation requirements, standing for grandparents in custody cases, and the enumeration of factors the court must consider when determining a child’s best interests. These factors include the child=s sibling relationships, the preference of the child, the attempts of one parent to turn the child against the other parent, any history of drug or alcohol abuse, and any other relevant factors.
When the Court makes a decision about custody, it must decide who should have custody in a way most favorable to the child’s well-being. In 2011, Pennsylvania courts set forth sixteen factors to determine who gets custody.
In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed sweeping changes to the Custody Law in Pennsylvania. One of the major changes was the addition of a specific procedure which must be followed before a person can relocate with a minor child.
Do grandparents have rights in custody of their grandchildren? And to what extent? In a recent Bucks County custody case, the Court was faced with the issue of grandparents’ rights. After a trial, the Court granted the paternal grandmother partial physical custody of her grandchild.
Risking the obvious, it is emotionally refreshing to revel in the conclusion that divorce is not about children. Divorced parents are still legally related to their children; and mothers and fathers still raise and nurture their children. It is a relief to understand that from a child’s point of view, life does not have to fundamentally change when their parents live separately.
The transition out of school and into summer can be a mixed blessing for parents. The immediate sense of relief from the daily grind is often compromised by looming gaps in child care and structured activity.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently stated that grandparents automatically have standing to seek physical and legal custody of their grandchildren, regardless of their dependency status or whether a parent has been deemed unfit. K.B. II v. C.B.F. (9/25/03). However, having an automatic right to seek custody does not make it any easier to be awarded custody.
If the parents are not able to agree, the court will determine the custodial agreement which is in the best interest and welfare of the children. The most common arrangement is for one parent to have primary custody while the other parent has temporary custody at various times during the year.
Treat the psychologist with respect. Be friendly, sincere and candid. Smile. Approach the evaluation as you would approach a job interview. Do not become defensive. Do not treat the psychologist as a confidante.
In a custody proceeding, the role of the court is to determine the best interests of the child.
Increasingly, the family courts are granting shared custody to separated or divorced parents who demonstrate their willingness to cooperate in their children’s best interests and share child-raising responsibilities.
Effective January 24, 2011, the Pennsylvania Child Custody amendments took effect and have already significantly changed how child custody disputes are being resolved.
Pennsylvania recognizes common law marriages (if united before January 1, 2005).
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