In Pennsylvania divorces, one parent often receives primary custody of their children and the other usually receives ample parenting time. Yet, if you will be your children’s non-custodial parent, you may have concerns about how often you will see them. Your fears may be especially pronounced if aggravating factors are at play. But by knowing how state courts approach custody matters, you can fight for a schedule that fits your circumstances.
How Pennsylvania courts determine custody
When hearing your custody case, Pennsylvania courts will focus on creating an arrangement that reflects your children’s best interests. In doing so, they will set forth a plan that preserves their lifestyle and upholds their well-being to the greatest possible degree. The court will determine your children’s best interests by considering:
The parental duties performed by you and your spouse during your marriage
- You and your spouse’s ability to provide continuity and stability in your children’s lives
- Your children’s relationship with their siblings and extended family
- Any attempts by you or your spouse to turn your children against the other parent
- Whether you and your spouse can both meet your children’s emotional needs
- Whether you and your spouse are able and willing to cooperate with each other
- How close you and your spouse will live to each other
How aggravating factors affect parenting time
If you have a history of substance abuse or domestic violence, the court will take these into account when ruling on parenting time. Likely, your actions will lead you to receive a smaller share than you would receive in their absence. Yet, you will not lose your parental rights altogether. Any parenting time you receive, though, will likely require supervision by a neutral third party. This person may be an agency employee designated by the court. In some cases, a friend or family member that you and your spouse agree on will supervise your parenting time instead. In either case, it is unlikely that this arrangement will be permanent. You may be able to have unsupervised visits with your children once you show that these will not cause them physical or mental harm.
Even if aggravating factors may affect your parenting time, you will still be able to see your children after your divorce. By seeking legal help, you can work to protect your parental rights.