One of the most important jobs that parents in Pennsylvania have is raising their children. This can be a very difficult job, but it can be very rewarding as well. As parents raise their children, there are many decisions that they must make for them. These include making decisions about the medical care, which schools they will attend, what religion they will be raised in, which activities they will participate in and many other choices.

Parents may not always see eye to eye on every one of these decisions though. This may not be a huge issue when the parents are married, but it can become a much bigger issue if the couple ends up going through a divorce. Therefore, one of the toughest decisions that parents may need to decide during a divorce is child custody determinations. The parent that receives custody of the child will have the authority to make the major decisions regarding the children’s upbringing.

The parents can reach agreements on child custody, but if they are unable to do that, ultimately a judge will make the decision after analyzing a number of factors to determine what is in the children’s best interest. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • How each parent contributing to the parenting of the children
  • Ensuring the children are able to maintain stability with their school and community
  • The ability to maintain relationships with siblings and other family members
  • The preference of the children depending on their ages and maturity
  • Whether there has been abuse
  • Each parent’s willingness to encourage a relationship with the other parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide for the children’s needs
  • Whether either parent has substance abuse issues

There are other issues and factors that will also factor into these decisions as well, but as stated above ultimately the judge is deciding what is in the children’s best interest and not the parents’ best interest.

Child custody decisions in Pennsylvania can be very complicated decisions and are very fact-specific. Each family situation is unique and the judge will have to analyze the factors above based on those unique circumstances. Experienced attorneys understand the factors used in child custody determinations and how different circumstances will affect the decision. Consulting with an experienced attorney could be beneficial.