Obtaining Workable Child Custody Arrangements

To address the need for parents to work together when they separate or divorce, many counties require participation in parenting skills seminars and alternate dispute resolution before custody is determined. The goal is to settle custody cases without putting the parties and their children through a custody trial. Allegheny County has the Generations program, which involves an educational seminar and mediation. Butler County has Lifesteps. Other counties have similar programs, and it is helpful to have a lawyer who understands the differences between them.

At McMorrow Law, LLC, we take child custody cases throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. Our Pittsburgh child custody attorneys are familiar with the county parenting programs and can help you understand what is required before you take legal action. We represent fathers, mothers, grandparents and third parties in custody cases.

Custody And Parenting Schedules

Under Pennsylvania law, custody is determined by what is in the best interest of the child. In most circumstances, the child's best interests are served when parents work together to reach a custody and parenting schedule agreement. In Pennsylvania, custody may be physical and/or legal. Physical custody determines with which parent the child will live and may include shared custody, primary custody, partial custody or joint custody.

Legal custody gives a parent the right to make decisions regarding issues such as education, health care and religion. Legal custody may also be shared between spouses or be sole, and may be integrated into any type of physical custody arrangement.

Parenting schedules specify how the child spends weekdays, weekends, holidays, vacations, summers and birthdays. Judges are likely to approve parenting schedules as long as both parties agree to them and they meet the best interests of the child.

Relocation Issues

Pennsylvania parents with custody of a child or unmarried parents wishing to relocate to another location after the divorce must follow certain legal procedures before doing so. Generally speaking, the parent must give written notice of their intent to relocate at least 60 days prior to the move. In order for the relocation to occur, every parent with custody rights to the child must consent to the relocation or the court.

If the non relocating party does not consent to the relocation proposal, he or she may object to the proposal in court. In such cases, the court will review the proposal and may approve it over the objections of the spouse after considering several factors, including:

  • The nature, quality and involvement of the child's relationship with the relocating parent
  • The age, developmental stage and needs of the child and how the relocation would affect his or her development
  • The ability to preserve the relationship between the child and the non relocating spouse
  • The child's preferences, if appropriate, given his or her age
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the quality of life for the child or the relocating spouse
  • The spouse's motivations for the relocation
  • Other factors affecting the best interests of the child

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