Child custody battles are some of the hardest legal battles to go through. It can feel like your entire life and your abilities as a parent are under fire. In any custody case in Pennsylvania, the courts’ first priority is the best interests of the child. Judges give very little weight to the parents’ genders, and will even allow other parties to gain custody if the parents aren’t suited (such as grandparents or step parents). Instead, other factors take priority.
If you are going into a custody dispute, these five steps may help you show the court that you are a suitable parents and help you keep or gain custody of your child. However, you should never go into a custody battle alone. The Philadelphia child custody lawyers at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices may be able to help you in your child custody case.
Tips for Pennsylvania Custody Disputes
Whether you are the father or mother, or someone else with a custody claim (such as a grandparent), courts want to know that the children are in safe, stable homes that will raise them well. Some of these tips may seem obvious, but truly can help you win your custody case. Many of these come straight from Pennsylvania’s factors for child custody, listed in 23 Pa.C.S. § 5328.
Make Time for Your Child
Creating a stable, financially secure setting for a child is great, but if you work three jobs while going to school, you may not have time for your kids. Many times, the parent that makes more money might seem like the best parent, but courts don’t always see it that way. Child support payments can help tend to the child’s financial needs – but only a parent can tend to their emotional needs. A few of the child custody factors specifically focus on the time the parent can put towards child care, their ability to deal with daily needs, and their ability to nurture the child’s “physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs.”
Don’t Bad-Mouth the Other Parent
Children can still have a relationship with the non-custodial parent in many cases. In fact, courts like to encourage a relationship with both parents, if the parents are fit to stay in their kids’ lives. One of the factors for child custody specifically encourages parents to “encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and [the other parent].” This means that the court will often rule against parents who turn their kids against the other parent or constantly keep shared children from contacting their other parent. Similarly, the courts favor parents who are willing to cooperate with each other and work toward the children’s best interests.
Make Your House a Home
The court wants to ensure that children are going to a safe, nurturing, child-friendly home. If you are able to do so, performing repairs and enhancing the safety of your home can help a court decide you are a more fit parent. Removing lead paint, repairing dangerous wiring, or even doing something as simple as purchasing baby gates, childproof outlet covers, and furniture that won’t tip over might help. Removing inappropriate decorations and making the home more child-friendly will also show the court you are serious about making your home a home for your child.
Stop Bad Habits
A history of drug or alcohol abuse is something courts weigh heavily against a parent in a custody battle. If you or another person in your household has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, get help. Courts work to keep children away from parents that will keep drugs around the house or may to too drunk or high to properly care for their kids. The same is true for parents with a history of mental illness or anger problems. Seeking treatment for these issues can help the court understand you are serious about working toward becoming a better parent.
Get Your Family Involved
They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is sometimes more true than we realize. If you have a good relationship with your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family, then your child should, too. Courts look at the “availability of extended family” in custody decisions, favoring families who come together around their children. Plus, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins often make excellent babysitters, demonstrating to the court that there will always be someone around to help you care for the child if you have to go to work or run errands.
Philadelphia Child Custody Attorneys
The Pennsylvania family lawyers at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices fight custody battles on behalf of parents in Philadelphia and throughout the area. If you are considering demanding custody or are currently involved in child custody dispute, talk to an attorney. These steps may help, but without proper legal advice, you may be missing opportunities to help you keep or gain custody. Call 215-814-0395 today to schedule a free legal consultation regarding your child custody case.