The well-being of the child is the main priority in child custody decisions in Pennsylvania.
Potential arrangements include shared joint, primary or partial custody. Sole custody is possible if both parents agree to it or if the court determines that it is in the child’s best interest to have limited or no contact with one parent.
What is sole custody?
Sole legal custody is when one parent has complete responsibility for making all decisions for the child. This includes everything from daily activities to important choices regarding medical decisions, education and religion. Sole custody generally means the child has no contact with the other parent.
Why would the court decide on sole custody?
A court may determine that sole custody is appropriate in circumstances where abandonment or neglect has occurred. A move to a new home also frequently factors in sole custody decisions when one parent is not physically available to perform parental responsibilities. Any situation where a child could be in danger from an unfit parent, such as someone with a history of incarceration, drug or alcohol abuse, serious untreated mental illness or domestic violence, will also influence a court to decide on sole custody.
Courts generally believe that it is in the best interest of the child to have both parents in their lives, so sole custody is difficult to get. Simply not liking an ex is not a good enough reason for a court to keep a child from them. One parent must show the court why the other should not have contact with the child.