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Physical and Legal Custody Under Pennsylvania Law

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Physical and Legal Custody Under Pennsylvania Law

When two parents are going through a divorce or they simply do not reside together, they will usually need to address child custody either by coming to an agreement between them or by asking the court to make a decision regarding child custody.

Child custody in Pennsylvania is divided into two major parts, physical custody and legal custody. Within these two main categories, there are special terms that the family courts use to describe various custody agreements and orders of court.

Physical Custody in Pennsylvania

First we will discuss physical custody. Physical custody refers to which parent will have custody of the child or children and when. If one parent has physical custody of the child or children on the majority of overnight stays then that parent has what we call “primary physical custody.” If the other parent has the child or children on certain nights of the week or scheduled times during the week then that parent has “partial physical custody.” If one parent has exclusive physical custody of the child or children and the other parent does not have any specifically outlined physical custody rights then the custodial parent has what is called “sole physical custody.”

A parent can also be awarded “visitation rights” by the court or can agree to visitation rights with the other parent who has “primary physical custody.”

Legal Custody in Pennsylvania

Next, we will address legal custody. Legal custody refers to which parent or parents have the authority to participate in the making of legal decisions, medical decisions, educational, and even religious decisions for the child or children. The most common arrangement agreed to by the parents or ordered by the court is “shared legal custody.” This means that both parents should be involved in the making of any decisions that would be deemed legal, medical, educational, or religious in nature. If it is agreed by the parties or determined by the court that is in the best interest of the child or children that one parent have the right to make all such decisions then that parent has “sole legal custody.”

If you and your child or children’s other parent can agree on what your custody arrangement should be and would like to have it make official by having it made an order of the court or if you and your child or children’s other parent cannot agree on what your custody arrangement should be and you feel that you need to ask the court for relief then please contact one of our conveniently located law offices listed below to speak with one of our lawyers:

CENTER CITY PHILADELPHIA: 1315 Walnut Street, #302 Phila., PA 19107 215-545-0008
NORTHEAST PHILADELPHIA: 2375 Woodward Street, #105 Phila., PA 19115 215-545-0008
DELAWARE COUNTY OFFICE: 1515 Wallingford Road, #218, Springfield, PA 19064 610-432-3111

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Sadek and Cooper Law Offices, LLC