A lawyer experienced in helping families with child custody disputes
Many tough decisions must be made during a divorce. For example, how to divide money and property. But when the couple has young children, the most difficult decision involves custody.
Attorneys Theodore Laputka and Edward McNelis of McNelis Law have worked with many families to resolve child custody disputes. We have used our experience and knowledge of child custody laws to work toward the best possible outcomes for children and their parents.
These family law cases can often be difficult and emotionally charged. No parent wants to spend large amounts of time away from his or her child. But in cases of divorce, some type of arrangement must be reached.
In Pennsylvania, the final decision on child custody is made by the court. The court's focus is on determining which arrangement promotes the best interests of the child. Emphasis is placed on a continued relationship with both parents, unless the court feels that continuing the relationship would be detrimental to the child.
When determining what's in the child's best interests, the court will consider several factors for each parent:
- Character and fitness
- Living situation
- Parenting abilities
- Ability to provide for the child's physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual well-being
Attorneys Theodore Laputka and Edward McNelis discuss all of the options with parents so they understand the different types of custody and what the court may decide.
Types of custody
Physical custody refers to the actual physical residence of a minor child. Put another way, which parent will the child stay with and when? Physical custody can include:
- Sole physical custody-one parent has full custody of the child.
- Primary physical custody-the child spends a majority of time with one parent.
- Partial physical custody-the child spends some of the time with one parent, possibly including overnight.
- Shared physical custody-also known as joint physical custody, this means the child spends a roughly equal amount of time with each parent.
Another type of custody is legal custody. This refers to making major decisions for the child, including medical, educational and religious decisions. Parents can have shared legal custody or sole legal custody.
Sometimes, parents are able to work out a custody agreement that is approved by the court. But other times, parents can't agree and custody is decided by a trial. We feel it is best for all parties involved, especially the children, to avoid going to trial whenever possible. But if an agreement can't be reached, we are ready to go to court.
If you are involved in a child custody dispute, it's extremely important for you to have a lawyer experienced in child custody cases who can advise you of your rights-one who can negotiate on your behalf and fight for you in court. There's too much at stake.