If you have a disagreement with your spouse that leads to divorce, one question that must be resolved is who will have custody of your child, if you have one. Child custody cases are heard and determined at the Family Court.
The course has jurisdiction over various family-related issues, including:
- Protection of a child from abuse
- Permanent and temporary alimony
- Sharing of marital property
- Spousal and child support
- Divorce and child support
- Child custody issues
The Family Court also has a Domestic Relations Section that works with spouses to collect and establish child and spouse support.
What Is Child Custody?
If you and your spouse are divorcing and can agree on visitation and custody, the family court in Berks County will determine visitation and custody. Child custody means having control over and taking care of a child.
A child will live with the parent who has the charge. The other parent may have visitation rights but must agree with the parent with custody on when to do so. The right of visitation is legally referred to as “access.”
There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is about which parent lives with the child. In a primary physical custody arrangement, the child will live with one parent most of the time, while secondary physical custody means that the child will live with both parents equally.
In some situations, one parent may have the most physical control over the child, while the other has the right to see the child.
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to which parent has the right to make decisions about the child’s welfare, such as their education and medical care.
Overview of Child Custody Laws in Pennsylvania
In Berks County, Pennsylvania, child custody is determined based on the child’s best interests. The Pennsylvania Child Custody Act of 1970 sets forth the state’s child custody law.
Factors Considered In Determining Child Custody
- The children need a stable and nurturing environment
- The child’s need for a close and continuing relationship with both parents
- The child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity
- The parent’s ability to cooperate and communicate with one another
- The parent’s ability to provide a stable and nurturing environment for the child
- The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- Each parent’s willingness to encourage and facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent.
The court may also consider other factors relevant to child custody disputes. For example, if there is a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or drug use, the court may take that into account.
Visitation rights are another issue the courts will determine. The rights are about allowing the non-custodial parent to visit the child. The court will determine the amount of time a non-custodial parent has with their child or children.
Types of Child Custody Arrangements in Berks County, PA
There are several types of child custody arrangements in Berks County, Pennsylvania. The most common are sole custody, shared custody, and joint custody.
1. Sole custody
Sole custody means one parent has primary physical and legal custody of the child. The other parent typically has visitation rights. This arrangement can be beneficial if the child is very close to one parent and would benefit from having that parent as the primary caregiver.
2. Shared custody
Shared custody is where both parents have physical and legal custody of the child. This arrangement can be beneficial because it allows the child to have a close relationship with both parents. Also, the child may live with each parent for part of the week and spend weekends with the other parent.
It can be arranged so that the child or children spend equal time with each parent.
3. Joint custody
Joint custody means both parents have legal custody of the child, but one parent has primary physical control. The other parent typically has visitation rights. This arrangement can be beneficial because it allows the child to have a close relationship with both parents while still having a primary caregiver.
Joint legal custody means both parents have parenting rights, like deciding on the child’s education, health, and welfare.
Joint physical custody means that the child lives with both parents and that each parent has a set amount of time with the child. The time can be equal or unequal, but both parents must agree on the schedule.
If the child faces any form of violence, a child custody lawyer may advise you to seek help from the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) program. The VIP program provides safe housing, counseling, and child support services.
The VIP program is a joint effort between the Berks County District Attorney’s Office and the Berks County Office of Children and Youth Services. A child custody attorney will help you understand the legal process and assist you in making wise decisions that will benefit you now and in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody
What Is Included In A Parenting Plan
Numerous issues are addressed in a parenting plan, including visitation schedules, health insurance, extracurricular activity schedules, physical custody, and legal custody.
Can I Keep My Ex-Spouse Away From My Children?
If your ex-spouse has custody rights or visitation rights, you can’t deny him or her visitation rights. However, if they pose a danger to you or your child, you can go to court and halt these rights.
What Happens If We Disagree?
If parents disagree about custody, the next step is to try mediation. If mediation does not work, a family judge will help you resolve your child custody case.
Experienced Child Custody Lawyers In Berks County, PA
At Bentley, Kopecki, Smith, P.C., we’re experienced attorneys in matters involving family law legal issues. We have a good reputation as successful child custody lawyers in Berks County, including the city of Reading, PA.
Child support is one of the most important things to consider during a divorce. A child custody case can be a very complex issue, and you can get the best child custody lawyer from our law offices to help you through the process.
There are several factors that the court will consider when making a child custody determination, and our experienced child custody attorneys are familiar with all of them. We can help with the legal process in the best possible light and advocate for your interests. For legal services involving child custody near me, contact us today.