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Factors Pennsylvania courts consider when awarding child custody

When your marriage ends in Pennsylvania and you share a child together, or when you had a child with someone outside of marriage, you may need to seek custody rights over your son or daughter. When awarding child custody, the state refers to a specific set of 16 factors.

What are some of the areas that undergo review when Pennsylvania family courts must make custody decisions?

Each parents’ behavior toward the other

Courts consider each parent’s actions toward the other and how likely each parent is to encourage meaningful communications with the other parent before making custody decisions. If there is any history of abuse between parents or between one of the parents and the child, this may also factor in during a court’s decision-making.

The child’s desires

If your child is old enough and has a maturity level that the court considers sufficient, your son or daughter may have a voice in where he or she lives after a divorce or split.

The stability and appropriateness of each parent’s home

Pennsylvania family courts also look to place your child in a stable, comfortable environment where he or she is likely to grow and thrive. The proximity between parents’ homes, or lack thereof, may also be a factor in custody cases.

Sibling relationships

If your child has brothers or sisters that live in one or both parents’ homes, the strength of the relationships between your child and his or her siblings may also come into play.

Any history of abuse

If either parent has a history of abuse toward the child, the other parent or other family members, courts may choose to place the child elsewhere. During the summer of 2021, Pennsylvania lawmakers voted in favor of “Kayden’s Law,” which would require judges to consider criminal convictions in custody disputes and recommends courts across the state implement child and domestic abuse training for judges and court personnel.

The areas outlined above are likely to fall under a microscope during a Pennsylvania custody case. However, this is a small sample of the factors a court will consider when faced with a custody case. Consider speaking with a family law attorney if you have concerns about a child custody matter.