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What factors affect child custody and visitation in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Oct 7, 2021 | Child Custody

Pennsylvania courts must decide custody cases in the best interest of the child. The judge considers all relevant factors when parents require court intervention to reach a custody arrangement.

Learn more about child custody and visitation laws in Pennsylvania if you face a divorce.

Child custody

Pennsylvania custody laws are gender-neutral. Custody laws provide each parent with equal custody rights to the child. The court presumes joint custody when both parties are competent caregivers.

Pennsylvania encourages visitation rights for the non-custodial parent in most situations. Visitation may include partial, shared or supervised physical custody.

The court can impose requirements to uphold custody. The court can require parents with a history of substance abuse to submit drug tests. The court will not allow visitation if there are serious safety issues such as a history of domestic abuse.

Best interest of the child

The court considers all relevant factors with weighted consideration when determining custody. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Sibling and extended family relationships
  • The child’s wishes, depending on maturity level and age
  • Stability and continuity for the child
  • Parenting duties of each party
  • The proximity of the parent’s homes to one another
  • How well each parent tends to the child’s needs
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse (for parents and anyone living in the home)
  • Any current or past abuse or risk of harm in the household

The judge can consider any evidence that reflects the child’s well-being in either home situation. Examples include personal testimony, communication, medical records, school records, education records, and expert testimony.