Numerous couples in the state of Pennsylvania will decide to end their relationships this year or in the near future. Divorce, separation and breakups happen and when they do, each party just wants to get out and move on with their lives. Moving on, though, is not easy when a couple shares one or more children. Child custody laws are in place to protect parental rights and look out for the best interests of the affected children. What exactly do state laws have to say about child custody?

First and foremost, state laws define who is eligible to achieve custody. Generally, both parents are eligible and shared custody arrangements are preferred; however, there are certain reasons as to why one parent may not be able to achieve shared custody. Some of these reasons include:

  • Substance abuse issues
  • History of domestic violence
  • Mental health concerns

If a former couple is unable to reach agreeable custody terms either on their own or with the assistance of a mediator or legal counsel, they may have to take the matter to court. If a judge gets to weigh in on the situation, the court will look at various relevant factors. Some of these factors include:

  • Age of the affected child/children
  • A child’s wishes
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Current parental roles
  • Available living arrangements

The goal of any child custody plan is and always should be to create an arrangement that suits the best interests of the affected children. Not all parents in Pennsylvania will agree on what that may be, however. With the right assistance, achieving a child custody order that provides one’s children with the stability needed to continue thriving is possible. Just know that obtaining such an order may take time and may require judicial intervention.