Child’s Opinion Influence: Understanding Custody Determination in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the law states that the court must determine what is in the “best interest of the child” when making a custody decision. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, like the child’s opinion.
The Child’s Wishes
The child’s wishes are an important factor that the court will consider when determining custody. However, the law does not specify a minimum age at which a child’s wishes are considered to be binding. Instead, the court will consider the child’s age, maturity, and understanding of the situation.
In general, the older and more mature the child is, the more weight the court will give to their wishes. However, even young children can have their wishes considered by the court, especially if they are able to express their wishes in a mature and reasoned way.
A study published in the Family Court Review Journal suggests that courts are more likely to consider children’s preferences when they reach the age of 12 or older (Family Court Review, Vol. 52, No. 2, April 2014). Although this isn’t an absolute rule, it serves as a helpful guideline for what you might expect if you’re navigating this process with divorce lawyers in PA.
The Parents’ Parenting Skills
The court will also consider the parents’ parenting skills when making a custody decision. This includes factors such as the parents’ ability to provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs, their ability to communicate with the child, and their ability to set and enforce rules.
The court will also consider any history of abuse or neglect by either parent. If one parent has a history of abuse or neglect, the court is more likely to award custody to the other parent.
The Child’s Relationship with Each Parent
The child’s relationship with each parent is another important factor that the court will consider. The court will want to know how close the child is to each parent, how well the child gets along with each parent, and how each parent meets the child’s emotional needs.
If the child has a strong relationship with both parents, the court may award joint custody. However, if the child has a stronger relationship with one parent, the court may award sole custody to that parent.
The Child’s Stability and Security
The court will also consider the child’s stability and security when making a custody decision. This includes factors such as the child’s school, friends, and extracurricular activities. The court will want to make sure that the child’s custody arrangement does not disrupt their life too much.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, the court may also consider other factors when making a custody decision. These factors may include the child’s health, the parents’ work schedules, and the parents’ financial resources.
Not All Opinions are Created Equal
It’s important to remember that a child’s preference is only one factor among many that a judge will consider. As any seasoned PA divorce attorney can tell you, the weight given to a child’s opinion varies widely depending on the circumstances.
Factors such as the reason behind the child’s preference and whether the child has been influenced by one parent over another will be scrutinized. In other words, the court evaluates not just what the child wants, but also why they want it.
Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer in PA
Considering the complex nature of custody determinations, legal guidance becomes indispensable. Engaging a competent divorce lawyer can make a profound difference in navigating the maze of considerations that the court will weigh.
From understanding case precedents to presenting a compelling case for why your child’s preference should be considered, the value of skilled legal counsel at Engle Kauffman and VanHorn cannot be overstated.
Your Child’s Voice Matters, So Does Your Choice of Legal Help
When it comes to divorce and custody, there’s more to a child’s opinion than meets the eye. Pennsylvania courts take a nuanced approach, weighing a child’s preference alongside various other factors. While your child’s voice may be a significant piece of the puzzle, the complete picture emerges only when all elements are assessed thoroughly.
Therefore, if you’re in the midst of a divorce or considering one, do not underestimate the importance of professional legal assistance. Engle Kauffman and VanHorn has been instrumental in providing indispensable legal guidance for countless families. Your child’s future and your peace of mind are too valuable to risk by going it alone.
By comprehensively understanding your legal position, you can make informed decisions for your family’s well-being. Make the wise choice today; avail yourself of knowledgeable child custody attorneys in PA.
Take the next step. Consult us today and ensure your child’s voice is heard in the way it deserves to be.