Philadelphia Child Custody Attorneys: We Protect Your Family

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

Put Our Over 40 Years of Experience in Child Custody Law to Work For You

Child custody in Pennsylvania can be as creative as the parties need it to be. After a divorce, there is a perception that one party will have primary custody while the other can expect every other weekend visits. This is true in some custody cases, but there are many other possible child custody arrangements, including an equal or a shared custody arrangement.

We help clients to find creative child custody agreements that make sense for everyone involved and serve the best interests of the children.

If you want to craft a flexible arrangement, consider sitting down with us as your child custody lawyer. We will apply our wide breadth of experience in your child custody case to help reach a solution that works best for you. Call 215-967-9070, or contact our office online to discuss your concerns with an experienced family law attorney.

Child Custody in Pennsylvania

There are two types of child custody in PA: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody of the child is shared by the parents in most cases. This means the parents will consult with each other regarding significant decisions for the child in areas such as health, education, and religion.

Physical custody of the child lies with the parent who is in possession of the child, called the “custodial parent.” The custodial parent makes all of the day-to-day decisions for the child.

In the absence of any child custody issues like domestic abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or mental health problems, parents usually have joint legal custody of their children. One parent may have primary physical custody, meaning the child lives with that parent most of the time, in which case the other parent will have partial physical custody.

Primary custody means one parent has the “right to assume physical custody of the child for the majority of time.” (§5322(a)). This means the child resides with the custodial parent while the non-custodial parent has shared custody or visitation rights.

Shared custody or joint custody means both parents have the right to “assume physical custody of the child, each having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.” Additionally, both parents must agree on major decisions regarding the child’s life.

Sole custody means one parent has exclusive physical custody. Additionally, a parent with sole custody is entitled to make all major decisions regarding the child’s life without the parent’s consent.

Pennsylvania Child Supervised Physical Custody Laws

In Pennsylvania custody law, supervised physical custody, formerly called “visitation,” is when the parent without custody (the “non-custodial parent”) visits with the child periodically. The child is in the possession and physical control of the other parent or a designated third party. Supervised physical custody is rarer than joint physical custody.

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Court-Ordered Child Custody and Modifications

A custody order is a court order establishing the type of custodial arrangement the family has and what schedule they will follow. The custody schedule will cover all aspects of the child custody and parenting arrangement, including weekly visits, vacation and holiday time, and transportation issues, among others.

Our child custody law firm regularly helps couples negotiate a parenting agreement through mediation or in court, as part of a divorce settlement, separation agreement, or when the parents were never married.

Determining What is in the Best Interests of the Child

The court uses a “best interests of the child” analysis to during child custody matters to determine an appropriate arrangement, and will consider the following factors among others:

  • The relationship between the child and their parents;
  • The relationship between the child and other family and household members, such as siblings and caregivers;
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with a safe home;
  • The ability of each parent to provide adequate food, clothing, and medical care;
  • The mental and physical health needs of the child;
  • The mental and physical health of the parents;
  • The parents’ work schedules;
  • Whether either parent suffers from substance abuse or addiction and whether they are being treated for it;
  • Whether either parent suffers from a mental health disorder and whether they are being treated for it;
  • Whether there has been domestic violence in the home.

Our goal is to ensure that the custody arrangement serves the child’s best interests, which generally means that both parents are involved meaningfully in the child’s life, however that can be arranged.

Modifying the Child Custody Order

We have helped many parents modify the child custody order when physical custody, supervised physical custody , or other aspects of parenting time are affected by a major life change such as having to relocate for work, being deployed overseas, or having their work schedule changed. Again, a family law judge will determine whether the change you propose is in the best interests of the child.

You can be found in contempt of court for failing to comply with a child custody order. It is crucial that you talk to a child custody lawyer if the current child custody arrangements no longer works for you or your child.

Hear from one of our many satisfied child custody modification clients:

In 2016 I had been sued in court for custody of my daughter. Not being prepared with an informative lawyer I went to my court date and left with only one day a week with my daughter. I was devastated, being in a low place in life, fighting my way uphill from a nasty break up and recovering from an addiction. I knew that I did not want to live with the court order that was just granted only seeing my daughter only once a week. During this time I continued to rebuild my life which included getting my own apartment with a separate bedroom for my daughter, and researching the internet for an attorney I could actually afford. I went to a few interviews but when I went to the interview with Lee Schwartz I knew that he was the best option for me. From the beginning he told me honestly what to expect from best outcome to worst outcome and he worked with me from the beginning to the end. He would check in on me throughout the process asking me if I had any updates and never forgetting to ask me how I was doing and how my daughter was doing every time. He gave me direction on what my next move was in the road to the hearing day. The first time we went to court I wanted to aim to get 50/50 custody and I would not take no for an answer. Lee knew how I felt about it and we went for it. The outcome was everything I expected. I was at about 40% physical custody right from my one day a week custody arrangement. This was in Jan 2017. I was happy but I knew I wasn’t finished. I filed for custody again about 6 months later and it took about a year to actually get to the hearing. For this trial, I had lots and lots of written evidence that included a 20 page diary and 500 pages of text messages. I felt bad that he had to go through all of that but I knew it was for our case. Lee went through all of my pages of drama and he narrowed it down to the most important factors, summarized it for me, and even wrote for me my own testimonial to study from to get me ready for the hearing. Believe me I was ready! We went in that day shooting for primary custody. I knew Lee was great in court but in this trial he was amazing. Everything went better than planned. It seemed so easy for Lee to organize and have all information ready in his head with reference to evidence in text and emails on the desk, to come out in defense for me all at the right times! I was seriously impressed. When we left that hearing, I was granted with Sole Legal and Primary Physical custody of my daughter! So I went from minimal custody to basically full custody of my daughter in 2 and a half years. Lee Schwartz is really an amazing lawyer and his actions really impressed me. Another plus is that he offered to stay in the waiting area during the break if I was uncomfortable to be alone in the same room as my daughter’s father. I would say if you happen to need a lawyer and you want to be sure that he will go the extra mile for you, call Lee Schwartz. He is my one and only family law attorney.

– C

Child Custody Lawyers in PA Serving Parents in the Philadelphia Region Since 1981

In addition to helping parents establish custody and visitation arrangements initially through a temporary child custody order while they divorce, we frequently serve clients who need an emergency child custody order and clients who seek modification of a custody order.

For more information or to discuss your child custody dispute with one of our family law attorneys, give us a call today!

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