In Pennsylvania, courts will hold the best interest of the child above all else when making custody decisions. There are a number of considerations a judge can look at to determine what is in the best interest of a child.
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania processed more than 35,000 child custody cases in 2020. Here are a few factors that judges would have considered in those cases.
The willingness of a parent to foster healthy relationships with both parents
Except in cases where there is abuse or neglect, judges would prefer that a child have a relationship with both parents. Any track record of parental alienation or failure to honor past custody orders will weigh against a parent.
The ability of a parent to provide a stable home life
Children thrive in stable, healthy environments. A parent’s mental and physical health, income, employment and history of drug abuse are all factors that could affect his or her ability to provide such an environment.
Courts will also look at the need for continuity in the child’s life and will often favor arrangements that allow for as little disruption as possible to the child’s daily routines and education.
The child’s current relationships
A key determinant of custody arrangements is the child’s current relationship with each parent and the role the parents play in the child’s life. However, a judge may also look at the child’s relationship with his or her siblings and extended family.
There are many additional factors that can affect the outcome of a custody case, including the distance between the parent’s homes, the child’s preference and any other circumstances that are unique to a specific case. A full understanding of these considerations is essential for a successful outcome.