For those who are unfamiliar with the law, there can be some confusion or misunderstanding surrounding Pennsylvania's child custody laws. If you are on the brink of divorce, you may not be sure of your parental rights, and we're here to shed light on the subject.
Here are some facts about child custody in Pennsylvania that you may not have been aware of. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to contact our office directly.
Fact #1. Mothers and fathers have equal rights.
When parents file for divorce, the mother and father have equal rights to child custody. If the parents cannot agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the child.
Fact #2. An older child's preference is "considered."
Often, parents believe that an older child has the right to choose which parent they want to live with; this is not 100% true. An older child's preference will certainly be given due consideration, however, the ultimate decision is not the child's, it's up to the judge.
Fact. #3. Child support still has to be paid.
If a parent is not allowing the other parent to see their child, it does not mean that the paying parent can stop paying child support; child support and custody/visitation are NOT connected. In this scenario, the best thing for the paying parent to do is go to court as soon as possible, addressing the fact that they are being denied their court-ordered visitation.
Fact #4. The courts find stability to be important.
If there is a child custody dispute, the courts put weight on the fact that a child has a longstanding child custody arrangement, one where the child has a warm and loving relationship with a parent. This includes a situation where the child has been living in one home continuously, opposed to living with various people, or frequent moves. If the status quo represents stability and it's a positive influence, the court may not want to change the situation.
Fact #5. Finances matter to an extent.
With custody, finances are mainly an issue in regards to providing an adequate home and safe environment for the child. If there is a dispute and one parent is wealthy and the other earns an average income, the wealthier parent will not be given more consideration on the basis of their wealth alone.
If you are seeking a divorce and have children, contact Cairns Law Offices for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are here to be of service to you!