Child custody factors in Pennsylvania

If you are going through a divorce in Pennsylvania and you have children, a big consideration is who gets custody of them. If you and your soon-to-be ex cannot decide amicably on a custody agreement, the courts look at what is in the best interest of the children, and there are some main factors involved in the decision-making process.

According to FindLaw, the state leans towards joint custody as long as both parents are willing and able, and there is no bias based on gender of the parent. Courts also make custody determinations based on what is best for the child. Factors the judge considers include

  • A child’s relationship with each parent as well as with extended family
  • Physical and mental health of parents and children
  • Each parent’s involvement in children’s activities 
  • Stability for child
  • Ability of each parent to provide a safe, loving and financially-stable home 
  • History of physical, alcohol or drug abuse
  • The wishes of an older child

Very Well Family discusses that if you and your spouse are amicable and you wish to skip the court proceedings, you can draft a custody agreement on your own and present it to the court for approval. The first thing to decide is who gets physical and legal custody, and this can be both of you. Other details you should outline include

  • Holiday and weekend schedules
  • Visitation schedules, including those with extended family
  • How pick up and drop off will work
  • A clause for changing the agreement if needed
  • Issues such as extra-curricular activities, religious practices and education