Family law guides Pennsylvania judges when they make decisions on child custody cases. This could cover a wide range of issues. For example, safety represents a top priority when authorities review child custody petitions. Any indication that living with a specific parent could endanger a child may prompt a court to deny a request for custody or visitation.

Aside from threats of abuse or neglect, family courts want to confirm that parents have the resources to adequately meet their children’s physical and emotional needs. All children need access to proper housing, food, clothing, health care and education. Courts will want to see evidence that a parent has a loving and supportive relationship with the child. For young kids, courts might favor primary caregivers who have had the strongest parental bond. Older children might get to express their wishes regarding custody to a judge.

Family courts also strive to limit unnecessary disruption in children’s lives. A judge might only approve a custody plan that maintains a child’s existing routine and does not force a switch in schools. In some cases, however, a request for custody modification related to parental relocation might gain court approval if the child will benefit from access to a better school.

A parent might improve the outcome of a custody hearing by providing evidence of positive involvement in a child’s life. An attorney could offer guidance about how to communicate this evidence in court. Legal counsel might also provide answers when a parent has concerns about being denied access to children or must make allegations of abuse. If that effort does not succeed, then an attorney could defend a parent’s position in court.