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Can Parents Decide on Child Custody?

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 5-Oct-2016

If you are headed for divorce, you probably have a lot of questions, especially if you have children. Surely, you've heard your share of divorce horror stories over the years from friends, family and co-workers, so naturally, these tales may have you concerned about your own divorce.

If you have minor children with your spouse, one of your biggest concerns is probably child custody. Will the judge decide on where your children will live, or can you and your spouse decide?

We have good news for you, divorce and child custody do not have to be contentious. If you and your spouse agree to end things amicably, you can have a swift and affordable divorce in as little as 90 days.

As far as child custody is concerned, if you and your spouse are willing to put your heads together and work out an arrangement, the courts will not have to step in and take over. Sounds good doesn't it?

Agreeing on Child Custody

In Pennsylvania, if both spouses agree to a divorce, they can obtain a "mutual consent" divorce in as little as 3 months. On the other hand, if one spouse refuses to consent to the divorce, the couple must be separated for two years before the court will grant a divorce.

If you and your spouse can agree to a mutual consent divorce and agree on a child custody arrangement, you will not have to go to court and have a judge decide for you. Parents find this to be a HUGE plus because there's no way a judge can know a child's needs and a family the way the parents do.

What if parents don't agree on custody?

When parents don't agree on child custody, it gets more complicated. In these situations, the court may ask the parents to submit a parenting plan to help the court make a decision.

Each plan must provide details about how the parents will make important decisions about the child and they must include a schedule of when the child will live with each of the parents.

Parenting plans must be submitted to the court in a specific format, so it's best to have an attorney assist with this process. Once the judge reviews both parenting plans, he or she would issue an order.

If a parent disagrees with the judge's order, they may file a request for reconsideration. Parents can also file an appeal with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, but they must do this within 30 days of the court's order.

If you're interested in having a "mutual consent" divorce where you and your spouse can decide on child custody, contact Cairns Law Offices for a free consultation.