How to File for Child Custody in PA?A Step-by-Step Guide

Child custody is a legal term that refers to the rights and responsibilities of parents or guardians regarding their children.

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Child custody in Carlifonia
Child custody in Carlifonia| Mitchell

Legal custody is the ability to make important decisions on behalf of a child, such as education, health care, and religion.

Physical custody is the right to have the child live with or be with you.

If you are a parent or guardian who wants to file for child custody in PA, you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility and standing

Before you file for child custody, you need to make sure that you are eligible and have standing to do so.

Eligibility means that you meet the legal requirements to file for custody in PA, such as being a resident of the state for at least six months.

Standing means that you have a legal relationship with the child that gives you the right to seek custody, such as being a parent, grandparent, or stepparent.

 

Step 2: Prepare and file the custody paperwork

The next step is to prepare and file the custody paperwork with the court.

The paperwork consists of several forms that you need to fill out and submit to the Prothonotary’s office in the county where the child lives.

The forms include:

1.A Complaint for Custody, which states your request for custody and information about you, the other parent or guardian, and the child.

2.Criminal Record/Abuse History Verification, which discloses any criminal or abuse history of you and the other parent or guardian.

3.A Confidential Information Form, which provides personal information about you, the other parent or guardian, and the child for the court’s records.

4.A Certificate of Service, which proves that you served a copy of the complaint and other forms to the other parent or guardian.

Step 3: Attend the custody conference and hearing

After you file your paperwork, the court will schedule a custody conference and a hearing.

A custody conference is a meeting between you, the other parent or guardian, and a court officer who will try to help you reach an agreement on custody.

If you reach an agreement, the court officer will prepare a Custody Order that reflects your agreement and submit it to a judge for approval.

If you do not reach an agreement at the conference, or if there are issues that need further investigation, such as domestic violence or substance abuse, the court will schedule a hearing.

A hearing is a formal proceeding where you, the other parent or guardian, and any witnesses or experts will testify before a judge who will decide on custody.

You may want to hire a lawyer to represent you at the hearing, as it can be complex and adversarial.

The judge will base their decision on what is in **the best interest of the child**, considering factors such as:

1.The child’s preference, if they are old enough and mature enough to express it

2.The child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs

3.The child’s relationship with each parent or guardian and any siblings

4.The ability of each parent or guardian to provide stability, love, and care for the child

5.The availability of each parent or guardian to spend time with the child

6.The history of cooperation or conflict between the parents or guardians

7.The history of abuse or neglect by either parent or guardian

The judge will issue a Custody Order that specifies the type and schedule of legal and physical custody for each parent or guardian.

The order may also include provisions for visitation, communication, transportation, holidays, vacations, and other matters related to custody.

Step 4: Follow and modify the custody order

The final step is to follow and modify the custody order as needed. You must comply with the terms of the order and respect the rights of the other parent or guardian.

Child custody and how it works
How child custody works in California
| California Courts

If you fail to do so, you may face legal consequences such as contempt of court or loss of custody.

If you want to change the order because of a significant change in circumstances or because it is not working well for you or the child, you can file a Petition to Modify Custody with the court.

You will need to show why the modification is necessary and how it will serve the best interest of the child.

The court will then schedule a conference or a hearing to review your request and make a decision.

Filing for child custody in PA can be a challenging and stressful process, but it can also be rewarding and beneficial for you and your child.

By following these steps and seeking legal advice when needed, you can increase your chances of obtaining a fair and favourable custody outcome.

Leave a Comment