Most Philadelphia couples aren't usually afraid for the safety of the children while working on a child custody arrangement. They may not particularly like the other parent, but they recognize he or she is generally a good parent who is trying to do what is best for the kids.
This is not often the case, however, in situations in which domestic violence has been involved in the lives of a now separated couple. In these instances, the victim is likely not going to want the other parent and perpetrator around the child at all, especially if the domestic violence also involved the neglect or abuse of the children.
Pennsylvania law does afford some protection to victims of domestic violence who are seeking custody of their children against the perpetrator. A judge is allowed, and even expected, to consider whether one parent or the other has a history of abusing the child and whether the child would be endangered by being around one parent or the other.
Also, courts in Pennsylvania must take it in to account if a parent has certain criminal convictions or, in some situations, a pending criminal charge. Most of the convictions that a judge has to consider in her custody and parenting time decisions relate to violence or child abuse or other crimes that could suggest a parent could harm the child. In such cases, a judge has to specifically evaluate whether the parent with the criminal conviction would harm the child and may also order the parent in to counseling.
Child custody and visitation cases can be particularly difficult when domestic violence is also involved, as many abusers will use custody cases to continue to manipulate their victims. A victim may need the assistance of a skilled an experienced family law attorney to help them stand up for their rights and for their child.