Child custody is often one of the most contentious and emotional issues in a divorce. It is also costly – both financially and emotionally.
At McIntosh Lawyers, PC, we uniquely serve our clients in child custody cases by providing a blend of strategic litigation skills and experience which are tempered by honest guidance. We know that your child’s well-being is your primary concern as you navigate a divorce. As a corollary, McIntosh Lawyers, PC serves you while being mindful of your interest in protecting your child. Unlike other lawyers, McIntosh Lawyers, PC maintains steady objectivity, grounded in strength, knowledge and experience, while guiding clients in child custody matters.
The paramount consideration in custody determinations is the best interest of the child. In order to ascertain the child’s best interests, the Court is required to consider all factors which legitimately impact upon the child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being on a case-by-case basis in deciding how to allocate post-divorce parental authority via legal and physical custody.
Custody is generally broken down into two categories:
- Legal custody is the right to make major decisions affecting the child. Major decisions can include education, elective medical treatment, and religious decisions. Parents usually share joint legal custody of the child.
- Physical custody refers to the party with whom the child actually resides, either partially or entirely.
Custody also involves other ancillary issues including:
- Primary custody – the parent with primary custody has the right to the majority of custodial time with the child.
- Shared physical custody – shared physical custody involves nearly equal custody for both parents or an arrangement that allows for substantial continuing contact between the child and both parents.
- Partial custody – the parent may take the child from the physical custodial parent for some overnight stays.
- Visitation – parent with visitation rights spends time with his or her child but cannot remove the child from the authority of the custodial parent.
Courts will generally approve any reasonable and mutually decided upon agreement for custody. However, it is sometimes necessary for the court to intervene and make a determination as to the best interest of the child(ren). The court will use any number of circumstances to make this determination. In determining custody issues, the following are the factors that the Court considers:
- The accommodating parent;
- Present or past abusive conduct or involvement of child protective services;
- Parental duties performed;
- Stability of parent;
- Availability of extended family;
- Custody arrangement of siblings;
- Well-reasoned preference of child;
- Parental alienation;
- Which parent provides a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship;
- Which parent attends to the child’s daily physical, educational and emotional needs;
- The proximity of the residences of the parties;
- Either parent’s availability;
- The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another;
- History of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of household;
- Mental and physical condition of either parent or member of household; and
- Any other relevant factor.
Custody agreements can be modified through mutual agreement with the other parent or by a court decision if you can prove that a modification is necessary in order to protect the best interest of the child.
McIntosh Lawyers, PC represents litigants in child custody matters through a skilled Pennsylvania lawyer who has decades of divorce and child custody litigation experience in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Bucks counties.