What is Legal Custody?

During divorce proceedings, when children are involved, things can get quite sticky in terms of custody. There are a variety of custody situations, but one of the most hotly contested is legal custody. In Pennsylvania, legal custody is defined as the person who has the right to make major decisions that affect the child. These can include educational, religious, health, etc. Since legal custody carries such importance in a child’s life, the court will have to carefully look at both spouses in order to make the best decision for the child.

What Are the Types of Legal Custody?

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Legal custody can be sole or shared. When sole custody is granted, only one spouse is responsible for making the major decisions in relation to the child. In shared legal custody, both spouses have a role in making decisions on behalf of the child. They must work together to make decisions that are in the child’s best interest.

What Are the Factors Involved in Determining Legal Custody?

Since legal custody is paramount to a child’s well-being, a Pennsylvania court will look at any number of factors to determine who should have legal custody and whether it will be sole or shared.

Factors that will be looked at are:

  • The spouse that will be more willing and open to allowing contact between the child and the other spouse.
  • If there’s been any type of abuse committed by any household member, past or current, or if the child is still in danger of harm and which party can provide protection for the child.
  • The parental duties performed by each spouse in regard to the child.
  • The child’s preference, which is based on the child’s judgment and maturity level.
  • The party that is more likely able to meet the daily needs of the child, including physical, emotional, educational, etc.
  • Each spouse’s availability to care for the child.
  • The mental and physical health of both spouses.

This list is not all-inclusive. There are a number of factors that a judge can look at for any given legal custody case.

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How Do I Know if I Should Seek Legal Custody and the Help of a Philadelphia Family Lawyer?

While seeking legal custody of a child is a very serious and personal issue, the person seeking this responsibility must have the child’s best interest in mind. A qualified Philadelphia family attorney at Sadek and Cooper Law Offices can help you determine if you meet the criteria and the steps involved to seek legal custody.

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