Child custody cases are often the most difficult and emotionally charged aspect of family law cases. If you are contemplating the end of a relationship that involves minor children or you need to establish or modify a child custody order or informal arrangement, you need an experienced Pennsylvania child custody attorney. There are many different types of schedules under PA custody laws, let our attorneys fight for the schedule that is in the best interests of your minor children.

PA Physical Custody Laws

Physical custody is the actual physical possession and control of a minor child. Pennsylvania statutes further define physical custody based upon the amount of overnights each parent or third party spends with the minor children. There are different types of physical custody, including:

  • Sole physical custody – Sole custody is the award of custody rights to one parent with no custody rights to the other parent. Sole physical custody is rarely awarded by the Pennsylvania family court judges.
  • Primary physical custody – Primary custody is the right of one parent to have the majority of custodial time with a minor child or minor children.
  • Partial physical custody – Partial custody is the right to take possession of a minor child or minor children away from the custodial parent and may include the right to have overnight custody with the child or children.
  • Shared physical custody – Shared physical custody (sometimes referred to as joint physical custody) is the term used to designate frequent and continuing contact between the minor child or children and his or her parents. This term is utilized most frequently by the Pennsylvania family courts when the actual custody time is split anywhere from 60/40 to 50/50 arrangements.
  • Visitation – Visitation is the right to spend time with a minor child or minor children, but not the right to remove the child or children from the custodial parent’s presence or control.

Compliance with Pennsylvania Custody Orders

Upon entering a custody order, the Pennsylvania family courts expect that both parties will comply with the terms of the Pennsylvania order – or a contempt action may be initiated. If a parent is found to be in contempt for failure to comply with the custody order, the other parent may be awarded “make-up” time for any missed visits with their child, in addition to other sanctions, including payment of the other parent’s attorney fees.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”) regulates which court has jurisdiction to hear custody cases, as well as methods to enforce custody orders in other counties, states and countries. If a parent believes that modifying a Pennsylvania custody order is in the best interest of their child, the parent should request a modification.

A request to modify a Pennsylvania custody order must be rendered to the family court that entered the most recent custody order, even if the children no longer reside in that county. If the children have moved, the UCCJEA requires the family court that entered the most recent custody order to decide whether it will transfer jurisdiction to the county court where the children are currently residing.

If you have questions about child custody or are engaged in a dispute over custody or visitation, the experienced family law attorneys at Mary Louise Parker & Associates are here to help. To discuss your child custody matters with an experienced family law attorney, please contact our office.