Child Custody

Proactive Attorneys Seek Optimal Results for Parents and Grandparents

At Noel & Bonebrake, we understand that nothing matters more to you than your children. Since 2000, we have handled hundreds of custody cases and numerous conferences and custody trials in Delaware County and the rest of the five-county area.

How Pennsylvania Courts Determine Child Custody Matters

Pennsylvania law divides child custody into two separate concepts: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the right to have your child live in your home and the related duties, such as providing food and clothing. Legal custody is the right to make decisions affecting your child’s health and welfare.

In the commonwealth, each of these types of custody can be shared (joint) or held by only one parent (sole). When one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent generally has a right to visitation, unless a court decides that contact with the parent is not in “the best interests of the child”.

That principal, the best interests of the child, guides all custody decisions in the commonwealth. Under Pennsylvania’s child custody law, enacted in January 2011, the court must weigh the following factors to decide whether a custody or visitation arrangement serves the child’s best interests:

  • Whether a party is most likely to encourage frequent, continuing contact between the child and the other party
  • A history of abuse
  • The parental duties performed by each party
  • The child’s need for stability and continuity in education, family life and community life
  • The availability of extended family
  • A child’s sibling relationship(s)
  • The child’s preference, if sufficiently mature
  • A parent’s attempts to turn the child against the other parent
  • Whether a party is likely to maintain a relationship adequate for the child’s emotional needs
  • Whether a party is likely to meet the child’s daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs
  • The proximity of the parties’ residences
  • Each party’s availability and ability to care for the child
  • The willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another
  • Any history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • The mental and/or physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household
  • Any other relevant factor

Through vast experience in custody litigation, we have gained a thorough understanding of how judges weigh these many factors and what facts they look for to support various assertions parties make to obtain a favorable custody order. When we go to court, we are fully prepared to raise facts or refute the other party’s assertions, so the court can make its decision based on full knowledge of the circumstances.

On the other hand, most custody cases do not require aggressive litigation. Our family law attorneys have helped innumerable clients negotiate parenting plans that protect their parental rights, advance the best interests of their children, and win court approval. If there are no major issues between the parties, a negotiated or mediated child custody agreement is often mutually beneficial.

Dedicated Assistance for Grandparents Seeking Custody or Visitation in Media

In some cases, after a divorce or the death of a parent, the custodial or surviving parent cuts ties with the grandparents, forcing them to seek relief from the court. In other cases, a custodial parent may be judged unfit, prompting the grandparents to seek custody. When a grandparent asserts a claim for custody or visitation, the law requires the court to consider the following factors in addition to those listed below:

  • The amount of personal contact between the child and the party prior to the filing of the action
  • Whether the award interferes with any parent-child relationship
  • Whether the award is in the best interest of the child

Modification and Enforcement of Custody and Visitation Orders

Construction Law

Parents like to believe that after they’ve gone through the trouble of negotiating or litigating to obtain a court order, the issue is permanently settled. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. As your children grow, their needs change. Parents also face changes, such as new relationships and career challenges.

Often, a custody order no longer works for the family’s circumstances, or one of the parties refuses to comply. In many cases, a custodial parent wants to relocate out of state or at a significant distance that would burden the other parent’s visitation rights.

Contact Us For Child Custody Representation

Since 2000, the family law attorneys at Noel & Bonebrake have worked tirelessly to protect our clients’ parental rights. To learn how our proactive and honest approach can help you protect your relationship with your children, schedule a free consultation. Call us at 610-892-7700 or fill out the form below.

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