Pittsburgh Child Custody Lawyers
Child custody issues are never easy, but with the right attorney’s help they can be managed effectively. Child custody issues are a frequent topic of discussion in divorce or separation cases and disputes are common. Our lawyers have the experience and patience to help you navigate your child custody case with ease and compassion. Our Pittsburgh custody attorneys have the experience to get you the custody agreement that you are entitled to. Protecting your child(ren)’s best interests is one of our greatest strengths as a law firm. We strive to put children first in custody disputes and will do our best to deliver on that promise no matter what the situation.
Legal Custody and Physical Custody
To understand child custody, you need to understand the two different types: legal and physical.
- 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 are to consult with one another in making decisions for the child.
- 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 best interests of the child(ren). Pennsylvania courts strive to issue child custody orders that keep both parents closely involved in the child(ren)’s lives. Considerations the court will take into account before awarding child custody include:
(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
(2.1) The information set forth in section 5329.1(a) (relating to consideration of child abuse and involvement with protective services).
(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.
(5) The availability of extended family.
(6) The child's sibling relationships.
(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.
(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.
(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties.
(12) Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.
(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.
(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.
(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.
(16) Any other relevant factor.
Who Can File for Child Custody?
In 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)
There are many different custodial arrangements that can either be agreed upon or if necessary the court will make the decision as to how much time the children spend with either parent. An experienced lawyer should be called upon to assist you with this part of the 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
We understand how emotionally taxing it can be to determine child custody and create a parenting plan. With almost 20 years of experience helping families in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas resolve these issues, we are certain we 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.
Our Clients Always Come First
We take the time to get to know our clients, listen to their concerns and educate them on the process.
We are transparent in our approach and will not give you advice that we would not take ourselves.
Personal Attention & Responsiveness
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.
An Emphasis on Strong Family Values
Our firm understands the importance of family values and works to maintain these values while striving for success in each case.