When is Sole Custody Granted in Pennsylvania Divorce Cases?

mom with child

In Pennsylvania, child custody laws cover topics of custody, visitation, child support, and other related family matters. A court will always try to make the decision that is in the best interest of the child or children involved. A York County, PA Child Custody Attorney will aid in the legal processing of your child custody case and fight for your right to custody of your child. Read on and reach out to our firm to learn more about how sole custody works in Pennsylvania.

What is Sole Custody?

Sole custody is a broader definition encompassing sole physical custody and sole legal custody of your child. When a parent has sole physical custody, it means that the child lives with them full-time as opposed to alternating staying at each parent’s home. When one parent has sole custody, the other parent oftentimes has visitation rights, whether supervised or unsupervised.

Sole legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make all decisions about the child. They have the full legal ability to make these decisions without input from the other parent. This can include educational, religious, and medical judgments.

A parent may have sole physical custody but may share legal custody, depending on individual circumstances.

Why Would a Parent Be Awarded Sole Custody in Pennsylvania?

There are a multitude of reasons why one parent would be awarded sole custody of a child. In most cases, sole custody is awarded after being agreed upon by both parents. There are many amicable reasons for sole custody, such as one parent traveling for work too often to have the child with them, or that the parents do not live in close enough proximity to share custody.

In other cases, sole custody is awarded as a direct result of one parent’s inability to share custody. If one parent has a history of substance abuse, mental disorders, abuse, neglect, or similar issues, they may be deemed unfit to parent. In that case, the other parent would be awarded full custody, given that the court deems them fit.

When Should I Seek Sole Custody?

Courts will always try to ensure that the child has access to both parents, as long as it is in their best interest. Because of this most courts lean towards joint custody. Unfortunately, sometimes this is not what is best for the child’s well-being.

There are several reasons to ask a judge to grant you sole custody of your child. You may want to seek sole custody if the other parent has a known history of:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental illness

These issues can be dangerous and detrimental for a child to be around. You may also seek sole custody if a parent is relocating out of the state or country, or if they are incarcerated.

What Are My Chances of Receiving Sole Custody?

It is truly dependent on the specific circumstances of your case. There is no way to make a general assumption of how likely you are to be awarded sole custody without knowing the details of your situation. Custody battles can be drawn out and difficult. That’s why it is important to hire an experienced attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for your child.

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