16 Factors Pennsylvania Considers in Determining Child Custody

16 Factors Pennsylvania Considers in Determining Child Custody
A determination of child custody is a complex procedure.  In deciding the custodial arrangements regarding a minor child, the court will look a number of different factors. However, each of those factors will have its own considerations.  

Deciding Child Custody

Although courts have some discretion in the analysis, there are 16 items they are required by statute to consider:
  1. Likelihood of continued contact.  The court will consider whether one of the parties is more likely to encourage and allow the child to maintain contact with the non-custodial parent.
  1. Abuse (both past and present).  The court looks at whether there is a risk of abuse to the child. Also, the court considers which party is better able to safeguard the child.
  1. The “parental duties” each party engages in.  This is important to a child’s overall well-being.
  1. Stability in the child’s life. The court will try to avoid causing more turmoil than necessary.
  1. The availability of the extended family of each party.
  1. Siblings of the child (if any). If a child has strong relationships with a sibling, this will be a consideration.
  1. The child’s preference. If the child is logical and mature, his or her preference will be considered. Although, this factor is not necessarily determinative.
  1. Whether a party has attempted to turn the child against the other parent.
  1. Which party is more likely to maintain a loving and stable relationship with the child.
  1. Whether a party is likely to address the daily needs of the child. The court wants to ensure that the child will not suffer from neglect.
  1. The location of each party’s residence.  The court's goal is to avoid destabilizing the child. Thus, the court will consider whether any prospective residence is unreasonable.
  1. A party’s ability to care (and obtain childcare) for the child.  This factor goes towards ensuring the child’s safety and well-being.
  1. The amount of conflict and cooperation between the parties.  If one party is more belligerent, he or she will be less likely to receive larger amounts of custody.
  1. Drug or alcohol abuse by a party or someone in the household.   The court considers the safest environment for the child.
  1. Mental and physical stability of a party and members of the party’s household.
  1. Other relevant factors. This is a catchall provision. It helps the court obtain a general overall picture of the best situation for the child.
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