When you are involved in a family law dispute, whether it’s the breakup of a marriage or a long-term relationship, and there are minor children involved, you’ll have to make difficult decisions about where your children will spend most of their time—who will be the custodial parent—and how visitation will work—when they will see the non-custodial parent. You can typically work out an arrangement, but the court will likely review it to ensure it’s in the best interests of your children. If you can’t come to agreement, the court may need to get involved.
The first thing to understand is that there are technically two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the children actually live when they are not on visitation, where they spend most of their time. Legal custody refers to decisions about the child’s well-being, such as education, medical needs and religious training. The courts encourage both parents to be involved with legal custody, in an arrangement known as joint legal custody. With respect to physical custody, though, the arrangement can take a variety of forms, but ultimately must give priority to the best interests of the children.
Factors the Court Will Consider in Custody and Visitation Proceedings
When assessing how custody and visitation should work, the courts will consider a couple factors:
- The likelihood that each parent will encourage and foster continuing and frequent contact between the child and the other parent
- Any evidence of domestic violence or abuse
If there’s evidence of domestic violence or abuse, involving either a spouse or a child, the court can either deny visitation altogether or order supervised visitation only.
At the office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, we have more than 25 years of family law experience. We’ll help you stay focused on what matters. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.