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When determining the custody of a child, the Pennsylvania courts consider several factors. The courts prefer parents to come to parenting plan agreement on their own. Nevertheless, when the court has to decide, it will determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Make Custody Agreements in Writing

If the parents reach their own agreement, they need to submit it to the court in writing. You will do this by completing a written stipulation. The stipulation you offer the court must have a custody schedule that stipulates which parent will have the child on weekends, vacations and during the holidays.

The court considers several factors when deciding child custody:

  • Any present or past history of abuse
  • What your child would prefer
  • Criminal convictions
  • Another factor the court considers is if it feels that one parent seems likely encourage a relationship between the child and the other non-custodial parent.

The Court May Order Counseling

The court may order that the parents undergo counseling before it awards custody. When determining whether to order sole or joint custody, the court can use the advice of the counselors.

The court has the option to award one parent or both of the parents’ custody. The different types of custody are termed ‘joint custody’ and ‘sole custody.’

Joint Custody

If the court believes it is in the child’s best interest, it will award joint custody. If the court awards ‘joint custody’, each parent has custody of the child. Other factors that determine joint custody include:

  • Both parents have already agreed to joint custody
  • Both parents ask the court to award joint custody
  • At the discretion of the court

If the court awards joint custody, it may still order child support. If the parents have equal time with the child, and their incomes are similar, child support may not be ordered. However, even when parents share custody if one of the parents earns more money, the courts may order child support.

Sole Custody

If the court feels it is in the best interest of the child, it will award custody to only one of the parents. This is termed ‘sole custody.’ The court usually awards visitation rights to the other parent.

Child Custody and Relocation in Pennsylvania

If one parent requests permission to relocate to another state, the court holds a special hearing to determine whether it permits the parent to move the child to another state.

The court considers several factors when determining whether it will permit relocation:

  • Benefits the child will receive from the relocation
  • The relationship between the parents and the child before the move
  • The reasons that the non-relocating parent is preventing the move

At the Law Office of Freddy M. Godoy, we know that a family law dispute is one of the most terrifying experiences you will have in your life. We are dedicated to giving our clients the representation they deserve. We are here to help, contact us today at [email protected] or call 215-854-4061.


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