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Best Interest of the Child Standard in Pennsylvania and its Role in Child Custody

Those who are getting a divorce in Pennsylvania must navigate a number of legal issues. One legal issue that is often complicated involves child custody matters.

What types of laws apply to child custody matters? All divorce issues are subject to state law. As such, the process can vary from state to state. The following information is specifically tailored for those who are going through a divorce in Pennsylvania.

What does Pennsylvania state law say about child custody? Parents are encouraged to develop a parenting plan. If the parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the court will put one together. When this determination is put together, the court will apply a legal concept known as the best interest of the child standard.

What is the best interest of the child standard? This standard allows the court to take a number of factors into consideration when an arrangement is created. The ultimate goal is to provide the best situation for the child.

Examples of factors that are reviewed include:

  • Logistics. The court will question which parent is able to meet the child's basic needs. This includes which parent can get the child to school and care for the child. It will consider which parent is more likely to meet the child's emotional, education, developmental and daily physical as well as any other special needs that the child may have.
  • Emotional well being. The court also attempts to place the child in a home that is most likely to encourage the child's emotional health. It will review whether or not the home would provide a loving and stable environment.
  • Child's preference. Depending on the maturity of the child, the court may take the child's wishes into consideration.

The courts will also consider the current role of each parent. Courts look for a parent to make the effort to keep the other parent involved in the child's life. Any attempts to ostracize the relationship between the child and the other parent are frowned upon.

How can I increase the odds of a successful child custody agreement? It is important to provide the court with the evidence needed to establish that you can meet the needs of the child. In these cases, it is often wise to seek legal counsel. An experienced attorney can help build this case for you, better ensuring a favorable outcome for both you and your children.

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