Sole Child Custody
When it comes to custody, it is the best interest of the child that is the most important. Sometimes this results in the need for the granting custody of a child to one parent or guardian – whether that is sole legal custody, sole physical custody, or both.
With the court leaning towards some form of contact with the other parent or guardian, this can become complicated with issues of visitation and parental rights. An experienced family attorney can help you sort through the legal complications to pursue the option that is most favorable for you and your family.
Chester County Sole Custody Lawyer
This can be a very complicated aspect of Pennsylvania’s family law system without the proper knowledge or guidance. Add in the complications of seeking sole custody and you have a case that deserves compassion and extreme care.
If you are seeking sole custody of your child in West Chester, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, Radnor, or nearby areas, contact the knowledgeable family attorneys of Ciccarelli Law Offices. We will work together to fight for the most favorable custody arrangement for your family – even if that means working towards sole custody with no visitation. Your first consolation with Ciccarelli Law Offices is free, so call (610) 692-8700 or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Information on Obtaining Sole Custody in Pennsylvania
- Available Types of Sole Custody
- Factors Impacting Sole Custody Decisions
- Pennsylvania Visitation Rights and Unfit Parents
True sole custody, that is the awarding of legal and physical custody to one parent or guardian with the specific and absolute exclusion of another, is rare in Pennsylvania courts. The tendency in Chester County courts and the courts of the surrounding counties is to consider contact with both parents in the best interest of the child, though specifics vary judge-by-judge. Thus, this process typically divided into two parts: sole legal custody and sole physical custody.
Sole legal custody is when one parent or guardian has the legal right to make major decisions affecting the interest of the child like medical, religious, and educational decisions. Having sole legal custody does not exclude another parent or guardian from any visitation or physical custody of the child. Similarly, sole physical custody means the one parent or guardian has full-time custody of the child, but does not exclude another parent or guardian’s visitation rights.
It is possible to for one parent to have sole legal custody, but have shared or partial custody of the child. It is also possible for one parent or guardian to still share legal custody involving the child’s best interests with another parent or guardian. An experienced West Chester family law attorney can help you figure out the sole custody situation that could work for your family and fight relentlessly for you to obtain it in court.
Sole physical custody is rarely awarded in Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, or Montgomery County, and other state courts due to the court not wanting to interfere with a parent or guardian’s rights. The majority opinion is that some contact with both parents is good for the child. However, according to 23 Pa.C.S. 5303(d), sole custody may be granted if it is in the best interest of the child.
Which situation is best for the child is determined in court by a number of factors, including:
- Child’s preference, weighted with regard to child’s age
- Any factors impacting a child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual well-being
- If a parent or guardian is likely to encourage or permit frequent contact with the other parent or guardian
- Each parent or guardian’s individual qualities, including parenting skills
- The individual qualities of any other adult members of the parent or guardian’s household
- The parent or guardian’s past abuse or violent conduct
- Criminal convictions of the parent or guardian
- Criminal convictions of other members of the parent or guardian’s household
- Past abuse or violent conduct of the parent or guardian, or other members of their household
Demonstrating these factors in court is a delicate, emotional process – especially when occurring amidst another emotionally volatile situation such as a divorce or domestic violence investigation. Showing the court that another parent or guardian is unfit for any contact with the child is even more difficult.
Even with responsibility granted to one parent or guardian, other parents or guardians of the child can still obtain visitation rights with the child. This can include the biological parent, stepparent, grandparents, and great-grandparents of the child. The revocation of these rights is extremely rare, and can generally only happen if the person is declared unfit for factors like:
- History of violence that is unaddressed
- History of untreated mental instability
- History of untreated drug and/or alcohol abuse
- History of neglect of the child
- Criminal homicide or aggravated assault conviction
Another avenue that could void a parent or guardian’s visitation rights is the voluntary or involuntary termination of parental rights. However, even in these two situations a court may be more likely to grant supervised visitation if they are of the opinion that some contact with the parent or guardian is more in the best interest of the child than absolutely no contact.
If you are legitimately concerned for your child’s welfare and are seeking to fight for true sole custody in Pennsylvania without visitation – you have a long, hard journey ahead of you, which can be made easier with proper legal counsel.
Working with an Attorney to Obtain Sole Custody of Your Son or Daughter
If you are facing a child custody battle in including Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, and Montgomery County, contact the compassionate lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices today. We will work with you to determine and fight for a favorable custody situation for your family. Call (610) 692-8700 today to set up your free consultation.