Pennsylvania child custody and visitation issues can arise in situations that don't involve the divorce of married parents. Interested parties can sometimes include unmarried parents, grandparents and other relatives who have a significant relationship with the child.
In cases in which there is a child custody dispute between unmarried parents, the mother is generally likely to given sole physical custody. Although a father who is not married to the mother of his child may not be able to gain sole custody if the mother is a good parent, he may still seek some form of visitation and custody rights.
Unmarried parents can decide to resolve their child custody disputes by working through them together, or the decision may be left to a family court judge. Because there are no contentious divorce-related matters that have to be addressed, getting resolutions for child custody and visitation is a less complex matter for unmarried parents than for married ones. When deciding who should be given child custody in these situations, the family court judge has to determine who is the child's primary caretaker. To identify the correct person, there are a variety of factors to consider.
In cases of non-parent custody, or custody being sought by grandparents, other relatives, or close friends, there are certain procedures that must be followed. The first step is to file a non-parental custody petition, which details the person's relationship to the child, the condition of the child's parents and why the person is seeking custody. Non-parents who are involved in these types of child custody situations may want to have the assistance of experienced family law attorneys throughout the process.