When Pennsylvania parents decide to get a divorce, most courts attempt to split the time both get with their child as evenly as possible. Even if the child primarily lives with one parent, the other parent usually gets a certain amount of time as well. In these cases, the court may have to decide who the child will primarily live with.
Most of the time, preference is given to the parent who was the primary caretaker during the marriage. This is because children often form a very strong bond to the parent they spend the most time with, especially if that parent was primarily responsible for feeding them, bathing them and being involved in their daily activities. Additionally, the parent who primarily arranges doctors' appointments, goes to school conferences and assists with homework will also be considered.
If both parents have been equally involved in their child's care, the court may have a more difficult time choosing who should be granted primary physical custody. In these cases, the court will determine what is in the best interest of the child. The court may consider the child's wishes if he or she is old enough to express them, the parent's mental health and the parent's ability to provide care for the child.
When one parent is granted primary physical custody, the other parent is usually granted visitation so they can have time with their child. If non-custodial parents feel like they do not get enough time with their child or the custodial parent is preventing them from maintaining a positive relationship with their child, an attorney may seek to modify the visitation order or seek custody. The attorney may provide evidence that shows that the custodial parent is not cooperating with the visitation order or that circumstances have changed and that parent can no longer properly care for the child.