How Do Courts Make Child Custody Determinations?

By Jones & Associates Law P.C.

Parents in Pennsylvania need to make many different decisions for their children as they raise them. They make decisions about where they will go to school, medical decisions, decide which activities they will participate in and other bigger decisions. They also need to make some day-to-day decisions as well such as what they will eat, what clothes they will wear, how much time they will spend watching shows, playing video games, spend on their phones and other decisions as well.

How parents make these decisions will vary from family to family. Sometimes parents will talk about each decision and make them together. Other times one parent will take the lead on certain decisions and the other parent on other decisions. How parents make the decisions will change though if they go through a divorce. After a divorce how parents make the decisions will be determined by child custody orders. These will determine both which parent will make the decision as well as when the children will be with each parent.

The Best Interest Factors for Custody Determinations

Child custody determinations are not easy decisions and are very fact-specific. When making the decisions judges will analyze a number of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the children. The factors they will analyze include, but not are not limited to:

  • The parental duties performed by each spouse during the marriage

  • The children’s attachment to the school and neighborhood of their current home

  • The children’s relationship with siblings and extended family

  • Which parent is in the best position to provide love and support that the children need

  • How close the parents will live to each other and whether they will encourage a relationship with the other parent

  • The physical and mental health of each parent

  • Whether there has been abuse or substance abuse issues

  • Other relevant factors

Many parents go through divorces in Pennsylvania each year. One of the toughest and most complicated parts of the divorce can be the child custody determinations. Experienced attorneys understand how the factors are analyzed and could be a useful resource.