As parents in Pennsylvania go through a divorce, there are many different aspects of their lives that need to be separated. They need to figure out who will keep the house, how to divide bank accounts, vehicles and other assets. They will also need to make decisions about alimony. If they have minor children, they will also have to make decisions about child support and child custody. These can be very emotional and complicated decisions as well since they determine when parents will see their children.
Custody determines which parent makes the decisions for the children and there are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. Parents can have joint custody meaning that both will have input in the decisions or one parent can have sole custody and make all the decisions. Also, parents can reach agreements on custody determinations, but if they cannot reach agreements ultimately a judge will make the decision for them.
When making custody determinations the judge will determine what is in the best interests of the children. In determining that, there are a number of factors that the judge will consider and analyze.
These factors include, but are not limited to, how each parent provided care for the child; the stability a parent can provide and their ability to keep things as normal as possible for the child; the child’s relationship with siblings; the child’s preferences depending on their maturity; each parent’s ability to provide for the emotional, educational and any special needs of the child; whether there has been any physical abuse; whether there are substance abuse concerns and many other factors.
There are many difficult decisions that parents need to make during a divorce. However, one of the most emotional and difficult decisions that they need to make could be the custody determinations. These are very fact-specific determinations based on the unique circumstances of the family and the needs of the children. Experienced attorneys understand the complexities of these decisions and could be a useful resource.