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Philadelphia Child Custody Lawyer



Child custody disputes can arise in a number of situations. Perhaps the classic child custody dispute situation involves married parents who, due to irreconcilable differences or fault-based grounds, decide that the marriage can no longer continue. As the single household splits into two households, the divorcing spouses may disagree over where the child should live and how he or she should be raised. Child custody dispute can also arise when a marriage or divorce is not involved. Mothers and fathers have parental rights regardless of marital status.

For most parents, their child or children are the most precious and important thing in the world. Therefore, parents regularly want to ensure that they will continue to play a role in their child’s daily life regardless of what happens to their relationship with the other parent. The child custody and family lawyers of Sadek and Cooper are proud to fight strategically and aggressively for dedicated parents in Pennsylvania. To schedule a confidential child custody dispute consultation, call our law firm at 215-814-0395 or online today.

How Are Child Custody Rights Defined in Pennsylvania?

Whether you and your child or children’s other parent are married and going through the complex process of divorce, or if you barely have any contact with the other parent at all, it is important to understand your rights with respect to child custody. Under Pennsylvania law, child custody is broken down into two distinct parts. It is crucial that you, as a parent understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody is what most parents think of when they think of child custody. It is basically exactly what it sounds like. A parent that is granted the right to have physical custody of your child is the parent the child lives with and physically spends time with. When a child’s parents do not both reside in the same household, there is a question as to which parent will have physical custody and when. In Pennsylvania, physical custody can be held by one parent or shared by both parents.

Legal custody describes one or both parent’s ability to make important life decisions for the child. These life decisions may include the type of education the child will receive, how the child will be raised if he or she will be raised in a certain religion and many other important aspects of the child’s life. Legal custody also comes with the responsibility to make important medical and financial decisions for the child.

How Does a Pennsylvania Family Court Make Child Custody Determinations?

In Pennsylvania, the Court must determine what sort of custody arrangement are “in the best interest of the child.” That can be very subjective and there are many factors that must be considered. For instance, the factors a court will use to decide whether include:

  • Whether a history of abuse exists for either parent.
  • The parent that is more likely to encourage and continue interaction with the other parent.
  • The household that is more likely to provide a stable community and family life.
  • The parent that is more likely to attend to the emotional, educational, and developmental needs of the child.
  • The mental and physical condition of other individuals in the household.

The court is also free to consider any other factor that it finds relevant to promoting or protecting the best interest of the child.

Further, although state law governs custody throughout Pennsylvania, each county has its own procedure in place and these procedures can differ in significant ways. In Philadelphia County, it is especially important that you understand how the child custody system works so that you have the best possible chance of achieving the best possible outcome for your children and your family as a whole.

What Type of Custody Arrangements can a Court Order?

After the court has considered the factors listed above and all other relevant factors contained in Section 5328 of Pennsylvania’s family law statutes, it must make a custody award. Potential forms of custody ordered by the court may include:

  • Shared physical custody – When parents share physical custody of a child or children, the children will split time between the homes.
  • Primary physical custody – In this type of physical custody arrangement, one parent has physical custody for the majority or all of the time.  This is also sometimes referred to as ‘full custody.’
  • Partial physical custody – Partial physical custody allows a parent to take temporary physical custody of their child for a limited amount of time. Partial physical custody includes weekend or other limited types of visitation.
  • Sole physical custody – Sole physical custody means that one parent has physical custody of the child or children.
  • Supervised physical custody – Supervised physical custody is most often associated with a parent with a partial custody award. The court may determine that a partial custody order is appropriate when there is concern that justifies observation over the physical custody period.
  • Shared legal custody – In a shared legal custody situation, both parents share the responsibility to make important legal decisions for the child.
  • Sole legal custody – When sole legal custody is ordered, only one parent has the ability to make important decisions for the child in the “Child’s best interests.”

The above sets for the various types of custody arrangements a Pennsylvania Family Court can order.

Work with Strategic and Aggressive Philadelphia Child Custody Lawyers

At Sadek and Cooper, our attorneys will take the time to understand your situation and to make sure that you understand what to expect from the courts. Whether you have been dealing with the custody system for years already or you are just beginning to have concerns regarding the custody of your children, the lawyers of Sadek and Cooper may be able to fight for you and your family. To schedule a confidential child custody consultation at our Philadelphia, Bucks County, or Delaware County law offices call 215-814-0395 today or contact our firm online.

Physical and Legal Custody

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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