David Axinn, an experienced child custody lawyer, is able to assist you through what can be a difficult process. Our office is located in Blair County, near Hollidaysburg and Altoona, and cases are also accepted in the surrounding counties (Bedford, Cambria, Centre and Huntingdon).
Custody in Pennsylvania is decided based on what is in the best interests of the child.
Although child custody issues often come up during a Divorce, a Child Custody case can be filed separately, without regard to the status of the marriage. Custody issues are decided separately from any divorce or economic issues.
A Child Custody Attorney can advise a parent about their rights, negotiate a custody agreement, or fight for the parent in court.
In Pennsylvania, there is a distinction between legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody includes the right to make major decisions for the child, such as medical, religious and educational matters. Physical custody refers to where the child is living. Physical custody may be shared between the parents in various ways, or one parent might have primary physical custody, while the other has partial custody. The schedule will depend on many factors, including the parents’ work schedules, the child’s school schedule, and the distance between the residences.
Joint custody may refer to legal or physical custody. Joint legal custody has become very common. Joint, or shared physical custody can also be requested, depending on many factors which would affect the welfare of the child. Visitation technically means the right to visit the child in the other parent’s home; more commonly, the courts will order partial custody, which provides the ability to take the parent to his home, or some other suitable location.
If the parties agree, a child custody lawyer can prepare a child custody agreement. This allows the parties to settle the matter amicably, without a court appearance; the agreement should be filed with the Court so that it can be enforced as a Court Order. If there is no Agreement, a Custody Complaint can be filed. Although the procedures vary between counties, there is almost always some type of conference, where an attempt is made to reach a custody agreement before a court hearing. Most parents prefer this, particularly where the alternative is a full-scale custody battle.
An emergency child custody order can be requested, through a petition filed with the court. This is used in serious situations, affecting the child’s safety or welfare.