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.
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.