It’s a Good Idea to Read This Before Your Pennsylvania Child Custody Case
Life is filled with good ideas. It’s a good idea to brush your teeth before bed. It’s a good idea to eat vegetables. It’s a good idea to get eight hours of sleep at night. However, many of life’s good ideas are ignored. I mean… seriously. How many people sleep for eight hours per night? But, it really IS a good idea to read this article before your upcoming Pennsylvania child custody case – you shouldn’t ignore it!
Going to court can be intimidating. Add in the fact that the hearing is related to your child/children and that only exacerbates the scariness of it. You want to say the right thing. You want to appear to be a good parent. But, how exactly do you do that? Here are three “good ideas” that can help you prepare for your hearing:
- It’s a good idea to have a general understanding of Pennsylvania’s child custody laws.
Okay. Yea. The reason you hire an attorney is so that you don’t have to do any legal legwork. But, even with an attorney, it’s important for you to have a general understanding of how the law works. This basic understanding will help you better equip your attorney with relevant information that can be used to bolster your case in court, and will also make you feel more comfortable during this process. A quick Google search using the terms “Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws” should draw out several articles that will shine some light on the Pennsylvania law. For some really dense reading, take a look at the actual statute that governs child custody. You can find it here.
Buried in that statue you will find the 16 factors that the court considers when making the final custody decision. Some of those factors include: (1) which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party; (2) the present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child; and (3) the parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child. Look over each of the factors and consider how you are better able to parent than your ex-spouse/baby’s other parent.
In addition, Pennsylvania no longer takes gender into account when awarding custody. So, if your son has been in his father’s custody for the entirety of his life and now you, the mother, want primary custody, the court won’t award that only on the basis that you are the child’s mother. The same can be said if the story were reversed. Ultimately, the court only cares about the best interests of the child by using those 16 factors we talked about earlier.
- It’s a good idea to bring all required and recommended documents to your meeting with your attorney or to court.
After taking a look at the 16 factors that the Pennsylvania court will use to make a custody decision, bring any and all paperwork that you think may help bolster your case. Including but not limited to phone call logs, visitation schedules, custody evaluations, social media posts, and text messages. You never know what may be relevant, so it’s important to let your attorney sift through all the information you have. However, as much as you’d like to show your attorney the picture of your pet parakeet named Spanky, who died five years ago because your ex-spouse/baby’s other parent accidentally overfed it, and now your child, who wasn’t born at the time, missed out on a relationship with Spanky… refrain. While all information is informative, try to stick to information that is directly related to your child and the 16 custody factors.
- It’s a good idea to dress and act like the parent of the year.
Leave your crop top, stripper heels, dingy work jeans, and worn-out t-shirts at home. From the time you walk into the courtroom until the time you leave, the judge is watching you. Now, of course, the judge is only supposed to use the 16 factors to make the custody decision; but, the way you present yourself in court will help sway the judge in one direction or the other. That crusty sweatshirt versus the professional blazer could be the difference between weekend visitation and primary custody. Dress to impress, y’all.
Also, please do not speak to the court unless the judge directly addresses you or your attorney instructed you to speak. Nothing is more unbecoming of a client than yelling/name calling/talking over the other party. Be respectful – even if your ex-spouse/baby’s other parent isn’t.
We understand that the custody process can be nerve wrecking. But, our attorneys are equipped to handle the most simple to the most complex of Pennsylvania child custody cases. Give us a call today and we can arrange an appointment where we not only discuss your custody case, but we also discuss all the “good ideas” in life we shouldn’t have ignored – at least reading this article won’t be one of them!
… okay… we won’t really talk about those ignored “good ideas”… unless, of course, they relate to your custody case.
*Our office accepts Pennsylvania family law cases including divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, paternity and child support matters, child custody cases, juvenile law cases, and related matters in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Beaver County, Berks County, Butler County, Clearfield County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County (Greensburg).
Our law firm accepts Pennsylvania family law cases from other Pennsylvania counties including Armstrong County (Kittanning), Clarion County, Fayette County, Greene County, Indiana County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Somerset County, and Venango County.*