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Child Custody in Pennsylvania

Familiarize Yourself with Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws


Mother and her two children decorating a cake together
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A court in Pennsylvania considers several factors in determining child custody. In Pennsylvania, it is preferable for parents to reach an agreement on child custody. However, if the court must decide, a Pennsylvania court will consider the best interests of the child in a child custody determination. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Pennsylvania should first become familiar with the custody statutes in this state.

Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with Pennsylvania child custody laws.

Counseling and Child Custody in Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania court may require parents to undergo counseling prior to awarding custody. The court may consider the advice of counselors in determining whether to award joint or sole custody. Many things will be discussed at the counseling sessions, including the responsibilities that go along with sole and shared custody.

Preferences of Child Custody in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the court will consider the following factors when determining child custody:

  • The child's preferences
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage or facilitate a relationship with the child and the child's other parent
  • Any past or present history of abuse
  • Criminal convictions

Pennsylvania Child Custody Arrangements

In Pennsylvania, a court will award one or both parents sole or joint custody:

Sole custody - the court will award sole custody when it's in the best interest of the child.

Joint Custody - A Pennsylvania court will order joint custody of a child when it's in the best interests of the child, and:

  • Both parents request joint custody
  • Both parents have agreed to joint custody, or
  • At the court's discretion

Pennsylvania Child Custody Agreements

If parents agree on child custody, they should produce their agreement in writing by completing a written stipulation. The stipulation should be specific and include agreements as to where the child will reside on weekends, holidays, and vacations.

Relocation and Child Custody in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, if one parent seeks to relocate to another state, the court holds a special hearing to determine whether the parent is permitted to relocate with a child. During the hearing, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The relationship between the child and the parents prior to the move
  • Reasons why the non-relocating parent wants to prevent the move
  • Benefits to the child's life, if the court allows the move

For more information about child custody in Pennsylvania, speak with a qualified attorney in Pennsylvania or refer to the Pennsylvania Domestic Relations Code.

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