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What factors do courts consider before awarding custody?

Custody disputes can be among the most contentious and upsetting issues in family law. Not only can parents feel scared and angry about sharing (or possibly losing) custody of their children, but children can also feel frightened by such changes.

One way that parents can alleviate some of the anxiety and fear in these situations is to familiarize themselves with the process so that they can know what to expect. For instance, if a custody case goes before the courts in Pennsylvania, they will take into account numerous factors before awarding custody.

As noted in Pennsylvania statutes, the courts will look at:

  • Each parent's willingness to facilitate a relationship between a child and his or her other parent
  • Any evidence of past abuse committed by either parent
  • Each person's performance of parental duties
  • The availability of relationships between a child and extended family and siblings
  • Evidence of attempts by a parent to alienate him or her from the other parent
  • The child's preference, if the courts believe he or she can make a well-reasoned judgment
  • The parents' abilities to maintain a loving and consistent relationship with the child
  • Which parent can meet a child's daily needs of the child
  • Where each parent lives
  • Whether the parents are able and willing to get along
  • Histories of drug or alcohol abuse by either parent

Based on these and other relevant factors, the courts will decide which custody arrangement is in the best interests of the child.

If you have concerns about your image in the eyes of the court, or if you think that your ex might put your child's safety or well-being in danger, then it is crucial that you discuss these matters with an attorney. With legal support and guidance, you can pursue a fair custody arrangement that protects the best interests of your child and your rights as a parent.

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