Areas of Practice
UNDERSTANDING PENNSYLVANIAN “BESTS INTERESTS OF CHILD” PROCEDURES
When a divorce involves children, and there’s a dispute about which parent should retain the right to live with and raise the child, the disagreement will always be resolved in court. Once the question of custody of a child goes to court, the court itself will always seek to make a decision about bestowing custody of the child to a parent based on the “best interests of the child.”
But while that phrase sounds like it makes perfect sense, it does provoke the question; in the eyes of Pennsylvania law, what does it look for as determining factors to decide what is in the best interest of the child? There are actually quite a lot of different elements the court is looking for, some based on emotional factors, financial factors and factors of opportunity.
As to be expected, the most commonsensical factors that a court looks for in child custody are about a child’s welfare. Common parental duties such as nurturing a child, providing a safe, stable, consistent environment, and providing for educational, emotional and financial needs of a child are all very large components in trying to evaluate where a child should go.
Many other components are also taken into consideration, of course, but a safe, loving environment with an opportunity to get a quality education and stable finances to ensure food, clothing and other necessities are a cornerstone of giving a child the best opportunity to grow up.
Of course, that’s not all that matters.
There are less tangible components that can also play a heavy role in making a decision. Character of the parents is important. If there is a history of physical abuse with the children, or substance abuse on the part of the parent, these play into a decision as well.
Hostility can also be taken into account, especially if it’s obvious that one parent is aggressively trying to turn the child against another parent. If there are other siblings, the child’s own relations with siblings and even the child’s own preferences-if the child’s reasoning is well thought out-will also be taken into account.
If you’d like to know more about how Pennsylvanian law makes its determinations about child custody, you should contact a family attorney. Find out more about best interests of the child and what legal ramifications it has for you if you are concerned about divorce proceedings with children involved.