Family law means a lot of different things, from marital matters such as prenuptial agreements, to business and property valuation. However, few matters are as volatile as those involving children. Divorce proceedings tend to be emotionally charged. The last thing any well-meaning party wants is for kids to get caught in the middle of a nasty custody dispute.
It’s important to enter into a professional partnership with a Southeastern, PA family lawyer like Jack A. Rounick. He can guide you through relevant facts a judge considers when resolving a custody-related issue. However, it is just as important to know what a judge cannot use as a basis for deciding your case. Some of the factors that may have affected your marital relationship, or were cited as grounds for your divorce, are not usually applied to matters affecting your child and legal and physical custody orders. These factors include:
Relative incomes — Each party is entitled to custody, as long as both can demonstrate they have the means to properly provide for the child.
Gender — Historically, fathers had limited rights. It was almost always assumed the mother was the more suitable parent for the child. The mother is no longer automatically assumed to be the fit parent. Moreover, custody proceedings should not be viewed through the lens of, “Which parent is more suitable?” Rather, the decision must be approached from the viewpoint of adults working together to protect the well-being of the child and to uphold what is in the best interest of the child.
Infidelity — A judge is typically not interested in “moral” issues related to a spouse’s cheating. The only time this may be a factor is when the new girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s treatment of the child is brought into question.
Every factor the judge takes into consideration must be relevant to what is in the best interests of the child. Legal custody refers to parents’ rights to make decisions on behalf of the child. These decisions may be medical, religious, educational, or emotional. Physical custody refers to the right to care for your child. This type of custody may be sole, shared, partial (with unsupervised visitation), and supervised visitation. Courts typically order supervised visitation only when there is concern over the child’s safety, such as in cases of known abuse. Accordingly, any decisions are based on which party has more ability and sincere interest in providing a nurturing, loving environment as well as many other factors specifically enumerated in the custody statute.
Keep in mind grandparents and other caregivers have the right to seek a custody order in some cases, such as when they have cared for the child for at least a year or when the child is considered to be in danger.
Your situation is uniquely challenging, and presents unique opportunities for a fresh start for you and your family. Bring your concerns to a trusted advocate, the Law Offices of Jack A. Rounick. Call 484-684-6055.