Montgomery County Child Custody Attorney
At Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, we recognize that no two cases are alike when it comes to child custody. As a result, we always utilize an individualized approach in these highly sensitive cases. Over the years, our firm has successfully handled hundreds of child custody cases, including those involving grandparents’ rights, third-party custody, and same-sex parents.
Contact us online or call (215) 544-3974 to discuss your child custody concerns with an experienced family law attorney. From our office in Blue Bell, we serve clients throughout the Main Line community, as well as throughout Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties.
Pennsylvania Child Custody: What Is in the Child’s Best Interest?
Pennsylvania child custody law requires that all child custody decisions must be in the best interest of the children. In most cases, this means some form of a joint custody arrangement between parents.
In general, custody rights are divided into legal custody and physical custody.
- Legal custody: In divorce cases involving minor children, the court will frequently order that the parents have shared legal custody, meaning that both parents will be involved in major decisions regarding the children’s health, religion, education, and general welfare.
- Physical custody: Physical custody addresses with whom the children will live. Even in shared physical custody arrangements, one parent may serve as the primary custodial parent. In some cases, the children will reside with one parent the majority of the time and spend defined periods of time with the other parent. In other cases, the parents may equally share physical custody of their children.
It is always our primary goal in any child custody case to achieve a result that is in the children’s best interest. If we cannot achieve this through negotiation or other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods, we will zealously represent our clients in court.
How Does a Judge Determine Custody in PA
There is no minimum age in Pennsylvania law that requires a judge to consider a child's preference for custody. However, the court will consider the child's wishes whenever possible. The court will also consider the child's age, maturity, and understanding of the issues involved.
The court will also consider the child's relationship with each parent, the stability of each parent's home, and the child's wishes. The court will also consider the child's age, maturity, and understanding of the issues involved.
If the child is old enough to express a preference, the court will give weight to that preference. However, the court is not bound by the child's choice. Instead, the court will decide what it believes is in the child's best interests.
In our growing and transient society, issues of relocation are arising more and more frequently. Shemtob Draganosky Taylor advocates for the rights of parents seeking to relocate with their children, as well as parents opposing such a move. The parent wishing to move must follow specific procedures to request permission to relocate and, in the event of litigation, must show the court that the move is in the best interest of the children. There are a number of factors the court will consider when determining whether to grant relocation, and a knowledgeable attorney, such as those at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, will be able to help you in navigating these waters.
If relocation is approved by the court, the existing child custody order or schedule will need to be modified. We can assist with child custody modifications, as well as with other post-divorce modifications.
What Makes a Parent Unfit in Montgomery County?
To safeguard the best interests of the child, Montgomery County courts consider various factors when determining parent fitness. Factors that may contribute to a finding of parental unfitness include:
Abuse or Neglect: Indicators of child abuse or neglect can substantially influence a parent's suitability. The court evaluates the safety and welfare of the child under the care of each parent.
Substance Abuse: A parent struggling with substance abuse issues, including drug or alcohol addiction, may be deemed unfit if it poses a threat to the child's safety and stability.
Mental Health Concerns: Serious mental health issues that hinder a parent's capacity to offer adequate care and a secure environment may result in a determination of unsuitability.
Domestic Violence: Involvement in domestic violence situations, especially if the child is a witness or victim, can jeopardize a parent's fitness.
Criminal Activity: Engaging in significant criminal activities or displaying a consistent pattern of criminal behavior may give rise to apprehensions regarding a parent's capacity to ensure a secure environment for the child.
Failure to Provide Financial Support: Consistent failure to fulfill financial obligations, such as child support, can be considered when assessing parental fitness.
It's crucial to note that the court examines these factors comprehensively, and a determination of parental unfitness is based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding each case. Seeking legal guidance from an experienced Montgomery County child custody lawyer is highly recommended to navigate these complex matters effectively.
How to File for Visitation Rights in PA
To file for visitation rights in Pennsylvania, you can ask the clerk's office for an emergency custody complaint or petition. You can also file a custody petition in the county where the child has lived for six months. Visitation can be unsupervised or supervised.
You should speak with our custody lawyer if you need help filing for visitation rights in PA. Our child custody lawyer can help you understand the law and protect your legal rights.