Child Custody Visitation Rights in Pennsylvania

By Brenna Davis

Pennsylvania passed legislation that overhauled the state's existing child custody laws in 2011. The new laws addressed visitation, child custody determination and many other elements of family law. Pennsylvania, like most other states, uses a "best interests of the child" standard in determining custody as well as visitation. For that reason, the overwhelming majority of non-custodial parents get some visitation with their children, and a legal presumption exists that both parents have equal rights to the child.

Pennsylvania passed legislation that overhauled the state's existing child custody laws in 2011. The new laws addressed visitation, child custody determination and many other elements of family law. Pennsylvania, like most other states, uses a "best interests of the child" standard in determining custody as well as visitation. For that reason, the overwhelming majority of non-custodial parents get some visitation with their children, and a legal presumption exists that both parents have equal rights to the child.

Child Custody Basics

When determining custody and visitation, Pennsylvania courts take into account a number of factors that may affect a child's well-being. These include the physical, emotional and financial health of each parent; the parents' willingness to foster relationships and cooperation with one another; the involvement of each parent with the child; and the parenting competence of each individual. State law acknowledges the importance of parental involvement with children, and parenting plans are required to help foster a good relationship and ongoing contact with the non-custodial parent except in extreme cases of abuse or neglect.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Gender Neutrality

In many states, the laws governing child custody and visitation are purportedly gender-neutral, but according to child custody evaluator Robert Galatzer-Levy, many experts believe custody decisions are often biased in favor of the mother, and some factors, such as income, sexuality and political views, can unfairly bias cases in favor of the father. Pennsylvania's new law contains a gender-neutrality provision intended to level the playing field and ensure that both parents have equal rights to custody of their children. If the father and mother are equally competent caregivers, there is a strong presumption in favor of joint custody.

Decision Justification

When a court in Pennsylvania issues a custody or visitation order, the judge now is required to explain what factors were considered and why a certain ruling was reached. This is intended to help eliminate bias and create a record that can be challenged on appeal. For example, if a judge awards limited visitation to one parent because that person is romantically involved with a third party, the parent could appeal the custody ruling and the underlying reasoning far more easily than would have been possible under the prior law.

Visitation

Non-custodial parents are entitled to visitation under Pennsylvania law unless an overriding safety issue exists. Parents with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be granted supervised visitation, but Pennsylvania law recognizes the importance of the family unit and seeks to grant visitation rights to parents in most situations. There are no specific rules on visitation, and judges may establish parenting plans based on the needs of the child and the overall situation of the family.

Seeking Legal Advice

Family law can be complex. If you are fighting for custody of your child or visitation rights, consider seeking advice from a qualified family law attorney.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Tenessee Custody Laws

References

Related articles

Laws on Divorced Parents Who Want Custody

Child custody proceedings can be extremely contentious because both parents generally believe they're trying to do what's best for their children. Each state has its own set of laws covering the standards under which custody is granted, the procedure for filing for custody, and the circumstances under which sole or joint custody is appropriate. If you wish to seek custody of your children, consider hiring a family lawyer who can help you navigate the often complex family law system.

Father's Rights in Indiana

The fathers' rights movement is a response to perceived injustices in the family court system throughout the country. Advocates for both fathers and children have brought about significant changes in child custody law over the past few decades, and many divorced fathers can look forward to increased time with their children and even primary custody. Indiana, like most states, uses a "best interests of the child" standard and considers each child custody case based on the individual circumstances of the family. As a result, there aren't explicit rules for the amount of time each father gets with his child. There are, however, numerous laws and procedures that can protect the rights of fathers.

Can You Write a Letter to the Court Requesting a Visitation Modification in Indiana?

Indiana has instituted very specific child custody laws and guidelines to help shield children from parental conflict. Consequently, parents must follow certain procedures to modify a visitation schedule and merely writing to the court is not sufficient. You and your ex may adopt any visitation schedule you both agree to, but to have the schedule legally recognized and enforceable, the judge must issue a new visitation order.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

What Do They Look for in Custody Cases in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania revamped its child custody laws effective January 2011. Historically, like other states, Pennsylvania ...

Child Custody Laws in Louisiana

The law in Louisiana presumes that joint custody is in the best interest of minor children. The long-held notion that ...

Child Custody Laws for Divorce Cases in Michigan

Custody proceedings are often hardest on children, the very people around whom these proceedings center. Michigan ...

Pros & Cons to Gaining Sole Custody in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, sole custody may refer to either physical or legal custody. Sole legal custody grants the custodian ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED