Lancaster Child Custody Lawyer Helps Divorcing Clients

Pennsylvania firm works to create healthy parenting plans

When parents no longer reside together, they need to establish custody arrangements that address how they will continue to raise their child while living apart. Specific concerns such as legal authority, residence, vacation schedules, visitation and education must be resolved either through agreement or a decision of the court. Chan & Associates is a Lancaster firm that has helped south central Pennsylvania parents develop fair, reliable parenting plans for more than a decade. Whatever your particular situation entails, I have the legal and practical knowledge to identify effective, lasting solutions. 

Legal and physical custody 

A child custody order addresses two basic elements of parenting: legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the legal authority that parents have to make decisions on their child’s behalf. The other part of the order concerns the child’s living arrangements, known as physical custody. Often, parents share legal custody so that both have a say on issues such as their child’s education, medical treatment and religious observance. Physical custody can be shared or awarded primarily to one parent, but in many cases, a son or daughter will spend more time in one residence due to the need to be near school and other activities. Sole custody could be given to one parent if the other presents a potential danger or has been shown to be incapable of handling their parenting responsibilities.

Child custody arrangements and visitation schedules

In cases where one parent has primary physical custody, the other should have substantial visitation rights so that they can maintain strong bonds with their son or daughter. There are several ways in which a parenting time schedule can be drafted. If parents live near each other, a child might spend one weeknight and every other weekend in the noncustodial parent’s home. When traveling between homes requires a longer trip, a schedule with fewer, but longer, visits might work best. You can rely on my firm to develop a parenting time plan tailored to your child’s needs, as well as the schedules of you and your co-parent.   

What factors determine child custody in PA?

Judges are bound to issue custody orders based on what is in the child’s best interests. The factors used in a specific decision are tailored to the particular circumstances, and any information the court believes to be relevant can be used. However, several particular factors are listed in the applicable statute, including:

  • Each parent’s ability to meet their child’s physical, emotional and developmental needs
  • Relationships with siblings and extended family
  • The importance of maintaining stability in the child’s life
  • Each party’s willingness to encourage their child’s relationship with the other parent
  • Any parental history of domestic abuse or substance addiction
  • The child’s preference if they are sufficiently mature to make a well-reasoned decision

By working closely with each client, I gain a thorough understanding of the factors likely to be most important if a custody matter goes before the court. This gives parents the knowledge they need to negotiate key issues with confidence.

Can a custody order be changed?

There are many good reasons why a custody order should be changed. My firm attempts to forge modification agreements so that parents can be on the same page when they submit a revision to the court. Unfortunately, there can be situations where consensus cannot be achieved, particularly in cases where a custodial parent intends to relocate to a new home. If this occurs, I review the situation thoroughly and present a persuasive case to the court as to why the sought-after modification is in the child’s best interests.

Does child support have to be paid if custody is shared?

While shared custody can affect the amount of the monthly obligation, child support usually still must be paid if a son or daughter spends roughly equivalent time in each parent’s homes. Pennsylvania’s child support model is based on the fact that each parent’s share of the overall financial responsibility should roughly match their share of the parents’ combined income. So even if physical custody is split 50-50 and no other adjustments are required, the parent with more income would likely be required to send payments to their former partner.

Contact a dedicated Pennsylvania attorney to discuss your child custody issue 

Chan & Associates advises south central Pennsylvania parents on matters related to child custody and visitation. To make an appointment for a consultation in my Lancaster office, please call 717-869-0015 or contact me online