Many people are particularly interested in the factors Pennsylvania judges must use to guide their analysis in a child custody dispute. Thankfully, Pennsylvania law is rather straightforward about setting forth the individual factors that judges in the state must consider when rendering a child custody decision. In fact, in January of 2011, a new Pennsylvania law went into effect outlining specifically what factors a Pennsylvania custody Judge or custody master must consider when deciding a child custody case.
If you are in need of a Philadelphia custody lawyer then you should be aware of these factors and the important role that they play in the outcome of a custody case in any Philadelphia area county court. These factors vary in importance depending on your family’s particular situation but they all must be considered before an order can be made. For the convenience of researching parties, a Philadelphia divorce lawyer of Sadek & Cooper have taken the time to list the factors below. However, simply listing the factors is not enough to fully understand the analytical framework. The lawyers of Sadek & Cooper can assess your situation and explain how a judge is likely to view it.
If you wish to file or are already involved in a Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, or Bucks County child custody case then you should contact an experienced, accomplished Philadelphia region custody attorney. Please contact Sadek and Cooper Law Offices at 215-545-0008 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Philadelphia area custody attorneys.
What Factors Must Be Considered in a Pennsylvania Custody Determination?
The analytical framework for a child custody determination is set forth by 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 5328: Factors to consider when awarding custody. The statute states that all of the following factors should be considered in the context of what action would best serve the best interests of the child. In particular, the court is to assign higher weight to factors that affect the health and safety of the child. The factors a court may use to guide custody determinations are:
- Is the party more likely to encourage and allow visitation and contact between the child and another party including the noncustodial parent.
- If the child has been subjected to current or past abuse. If there is a risk of harm to the child, the party that can better safeguard against that risk is favored
- The type and scope of parental duties performed by each party.
- A preference to maintain stability in the child’s life.
- Whether extended family or relatives can care for the child.
- The relationship the child has with his or her siblings.
- The preference of the child. This factor must have some basis in reality. Children who appear to exercise maturity and judgement frequently have their presence taken into more significant consideration.
- Whether a parent has attempted to alienate the child from the other parent.
- The party that is more likely to maintain a “loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship” over the course of the child’s childhood.
- The party that is more likely to care for the daily physical, emotional, and developmental needs of the child.
- Whether the custodial and non-custodial parents live in close proximity.
- If the party is able to make arrangements for age-appropriate child care.
- Does either parent or a member of the household have a history of alcohol or drug abuse?
- Is there conflict between the parents that would affect the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. It is important to note that a parent’s attempts to protect a child from abuse does not constitute evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.
- The mental and physical state of all members of the household.
- Any other factors that would be relevant to serving the best interests of the child.
Contact Our Divorce Lawyers in Philadelphia for Help With Your Child Custody Legal Matter
Clearly, there are an array of factors that a judge must consider when making a child support determination. Since the factors behind a custody determination are so numerous, the analysis is often complex and difficult for laypeople to predict. The attorneys of Sadek & Cooper can assess your matter, provide legal guidance, and fight to achieve your legal and family goals. To schedule a free consultation at our Philadelphia or other local law offices call 215-545-0008 or contact us online.