As previously discussed on this Pennsylvania family law blog, courts in the state attempt to meet children’s best interests when they make and promulgate child custody orders. A child custody order is the legal device that dictates what rights a child’s parents have once those parents are no longer in a relationship. They are often part of divorce proceedings where children are involved.
Based on the needs of different children, child custody plans in the state can look very different. This post will go over several factors that courts can use to decide how to determine custody, but readers should remember the process is case-specific. No legal advice is conveyed in this post.
Relevant factors for child custody determinations
Many of the factors that courts look at to decide child custody matters relate to the ability of the parents to care for their children. The parents’ health, availability due to work, and relationships with their kids are all relevant to child custody decisions. Other important factors can include:
- The health of the kids
- The desires of the children (if they are able to have them)
- Where the parents will live after their divorce
- Other case-specific factors
All child custody cases must be evaluated on their own merits and circumstances.
Do mothers always get custody of their kids?
There is a presumption in Pennsylvania that if both parents are fit to have custody of their kids, they should share them in a joint custody plan. There is no preference for mothers to get custody over fathers. Gender is not a factor considered by the courts when making child custody decisions.
It can be hard for parents to navigate custody matters when their marriages are ending. For that reason, it is important that they find legal representatives that they trust. Pennsylvania family law attorneys are prepared to help their clients fight for what is important to them.