When parents divorce or end a nonmarital relationship, their main concern often becomes how to maintain a strong relationship with their children. Child custody and visitation issues can become fiercely contested. It is important to have an attorney who understands Pennsylvania’s child custody laws and who will advocate aggressively on your behalf.
The experienced Pittsburgh family law attorneys at McCarthy McDonald Schulberg & Joy are well aware of the importance that parents place on the continued relationship with their children. We protect that bond and work to put you in the best possible position to continue to nurture your relationship with your children following your custody matter.
It is our experience that both parents and children benefit when the parents reach agreement on a custody arrangement rather than put that decision in the hands of a family court judge who is not familiar with the unique dynamics of your family situation. We frequently have success helping our clients reach agreement on custody matters.
When an agreement cannot be reached, however, we are always prepared to advocate on your behalf in court.
In any divorce involving minor children, the Pennsylvania court is required to establish two types of custody:
Legal custody — Determining who has the right to make important decisions regarding a child’s education, religion, and medical treatment.
Physical custody — Determining how a child will divide his or her time between the two parents.
Pennsylvania child custody laws require the court to make custody and visitation decisions based on the “best interests of the child.” In 2010, lawmakers clarified what that entails by identifying 16 factors that must be considered when awarding custody. Some of these factors include:
It is important to recognize that every Pennsylvania child custody situation is different and every outcome is specifically dependent upon that case’s unique set of circumstances. There are no “normal” or “usual” custody arrangements. Given our extensive experience and thorough knowledge of the law, we are able to effectively advocate the position of every client.