When married parents go through a divorce or unmarried parents choose to separate, their children may be caught in a difficult situation of having to split their time between the households of their parents. In order to prevent the children from experiencing uncertainty and to maintain their best interests, courts will create child custody and visitation orders that dictate where and with whom the children will live. This post will touch on some of the custodial awards parents may receive when courts determine their custody rights; readers with specific questions about child custody matters are encouraged to speak to their family law attorneys about their unique cases.
Generally, there are two types of custody that a parent may receive - legal and physical custody. While legal custody refers to the power of a parent to make decisions about a child's upbringing physical custody refers to a parent's right to raise a child in their home. Legal and physical custody may be awarded exclusively to one parent as sole custody or to both parents in shared custody.
There are three additional types of physical custody that a parent may receive from a Pennsylvania court. If the parent receives partial physical custody, it means that they have physical custody of their child for less than a majority of the time. If they have primary physical custody, then it means that they have physical custody of the child for the majority of the time. If they have supervised physical custody then it means that they must have a court-approved person with them when their child is in their physical custody.
Child custody determinations are intended to protect children's best interests and preserve the relationships between kids and their parents. They can be modified if they fail to meet their intended goals and parents can advocate for changes if they believe new arrangements could better serve their family law interests.