Child Custody

Pittsburgh Child Custody Attorney

Child custody issues are frequently discussed in divorce or separation cases. In addition, this is a common topic in family law disputes when parents are involved. Our child custody lawyers have the experience and patience to help you navigate your child custody case with ease and compassion.

Our child custody attorneys in Pittsburgh have the experience to get you the child custody agreement you are entitled to. Protecting your child(ren)’s best interests is one of our greatest strengths as a law firm in Pittsburgh, PA. Our child custody lawyers strive to put children first in child custody disputes and will do our best to deliver on that promise, no matter the situation.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody

To understand child custody, you need to understand the two different types: legal and physical.

Legal custody:

  • Legal custody refers to who will have the authority to make important decisions concerning the child’s education, health, religion, and more.
  • Legal custody consists of sole legal custody and shared legal custody. Sole legal custody means one party can make all the decisions for the child. Shared legal custody means both parties must consult with one another in making decisions for the child.

Physical custody:

  • Physical custody governs who and where the child will reside. Some examples of physical custody include shared, primary, partial, and supervised.

What Determines Child Custody in Pennsylvania?

Custody decisions are based on certain factors to determine the child's best interests. Pennsylvania courts strive to issue child custody orders that keep both parents closely involved in the children's life. Considerations the court will take into account before awarding child custody include:

  • Who demonstrates the likelihood of encouraging continued contact between the child and another party
  • Any instance of present or past abuse by any member of the household
  • Parental duties that each party performs
  • Relationship between the child's siblings
  • Availability and relationships with extended family
  • Several additional factors

Who Can File for Child Custody?

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you can file for child custody if:

  • You are a parent of the child
  • You are someone acting in loco parentis (or in place of a parent to a child)
  • You are a grandparent of the child who is not in loco parentis (under certain circumstances)

Grandparents Custody Rights

If you’re a grandparent seeking custody of your grandchild, our child custody lawyers can help. We can take the first steps to review your custody request and establish whether there is a viable claim to bring legal action for custody of your grandchild. Pennsylvania law supports grandparents seeking visitation rights. Since 2011, legal changes have given grandparents acting on behalf of their grandchild’s parent legal and physical custody in certain situations. This is more common if the grandchild’s family unit is broken.

The law supports grandparents seeking partial custody in situations such as:

  • A parent or both parents of the child have died
  • The child’s parents have filed for divorce or been separated for at least six months
  • The child has been living with the grandparent for at least 12 months
  • Awarding partial custody to the child’s grandparent would be in the grandchild’s best interests
  • The parent consented to the established relationship between the child and the grandparent
  • The grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child

Whether you are seeking full custody or partial custody, you will need a family law attorney with experience and knowledge of this area of custody law.

Child Custody Arrangements

Many different custodial arrangements can either be agreed upon or, if necessary, the court will decide how much time the children spend with either parent. You should call an experienced Pittsburgh divorce lawyer to assist you with this process, as it can be difficult for parents to agree on all aspects of a custody arrangement.

A custody arrangement will consist of the following components:

  • A custody schedule that details who your child(ren) will reside with during the week and weekends and when this time will start and end
  • Which parent will spend which holidays and vacation time with the child(ren)
  • How you will transport the child(ren) to and from visitation
  • Which parent will make the legal decisions for the child
  • How involved the non-custodial parent will be in the child(ren)’s life

Turn to Our Skilled Pittsburgh Child Custody Lawyers for Help

Our lawyers understand how emotionally taxing it can be to determine child custody and create a parenting plan. However, with almost 20 years of experience helping families in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas resolve these issues, we are confident our lawyers can assist you in finding the best possible outcome for you and your family. We know that your child(ren) are your top priority, which is why we make them ours as well.

Heather Schmidt Bresnahan is an effective negotiator and a relentless trial lawyer. Her extensive family law background includes effective representation in Native American custody cases and Grandparent’s custodial rights (under certain circumstances).

Contact Us Online Today or Call Us at (412) 693-6681 to Learn More About Our Child Custody Services.

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    We take the time to get to know our clients, listen to their concerns and educate them on the process.

  • Honest Representation

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    We treat each case with extreme attention to detail and maintain open communication so you can always rely on us to be there for you when you need us the most.

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    Our firm understands the importance of family values and works to maintain these values while striving for success in each case.

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Heather Schmidt Bresnahan

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