When Pennsylvania’s family courts make decisions about child custody, they focus on meeting the child’s best interests. This standard involves numerous factors, so there are no specific rules on what a court will do in any situation.
However, the court does look at specific areas as it comes to a decision.
Preserving relationships with family
First, the court looks at the child’s relationship with each parent. Justices understand that strong family bonds make children more likely to thrive.
They want to know how close the child is to each parent and how well they get along. The court also considers the physical and mental health of each parent. This is to ensure that the parent is capable of providing a safe and stable environment. If possible, the court will try to create or approve an arrangement that keeps both parents in the picture.
Relationships with other important family members can also play a role. Connections with siblings and ties to grandparents who take an active role in childrearing can sway how the court decides.
Stability, consistency and safety
Another factor is the ability of each parent to meet the child’s basic needs. This includes things like providing food, clothing and a safe place to live. The court also considers the parent’s willingness and ability to encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
Any history of abuse or domestic violence is a serious factor. If a parent has a history of harming the child or the other parent, it can strongly influence the custody decision. The court wants to ensure the child’s well-being above all else.
Additionally, courts often consider the work schedules and commitments of each parent. They want to make sure that the child will have enough time with parents to maintain a meaningful relationship.
Another consideration is the child’s age. Younger children may need more time with one parent, while older children might have more say in the decision. The child’s adjustment to school, home and community are additional factors. In most instances, it is preferable to minimize disruptions to the child’s life.
Child custody decisions in Pennsylvania involve careful consideration of various elements. Above all, the court aims to determine the arrangement that will provide the child with a stable, loving and safe environment that promotes the child’s well-being and happiness.