Child Custody – Myths and Realities
Child Custody Rights in Pennsylvania
Our experienced Pittsburgh lawyers have devoted some attention to debunking common myths.
The woman always gets primary custody, if she wants it. The actual standard for custody is: the best interest of the child. Most judges strongly believe that in order for a child to be happy and healthy, the child needs equal access and time with both parents. The facts in each case will determine what is in the best interest of the child.
If a judge comes down harshly on a parent (or criticizes a parent in open court), the judge be recused from ruling on future modifications of custody because of a demonstrated bias.
This is totally false.
In fact, in many Counties in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny, the concept of “one family, one judge” applies. This means, the same judge hears all divorce, custody and support matters involving a family, whether the issues unfold over weeks or years. As reported by Mary Beth Schweigert, Lancaster County was among the first in the state to adopt “one family, one judge,” said Judge Leslie Gorbey, who served on the task force.
“It’s considered one of the best practices,” she said. Anyone who initiates legal proceedings knows what courtroom he or she will be in, and what judge will be assigned to the case. Gorbey and President Judge Joseph C. Madenspacher, a former family court judge, said the “one judge” approach gives families more stability.
“It keeps everyone on the same page,” Gorbey said. “We get to know people.”
The approach also simplifies scheduling and saves time, Madenspacher said. The judge already knows a family’s general situation, which eliminates the need for lengthy review at each hearing.
This means that, the same judge will oversee your case from start to finish, through each modification or alleged violation of an existing order over several years, potentially. This means that your first impression (in the eyes of the judge assigned to your case) is crucial. You need to be aggressive about making sure you are prepared for court and ready to cross examine the opposing party.
Any major mistake (such as drug abuse, violence, or committing a crime) will cause a parent to lose custody. This is totally false. As mentioned, the standard for custody is, the best interest of the child. The courts realize that we all make mistakes. In addition, we all have the capacity to learn from our mistakes. The courts will reward a parent who (1) demonstrates knowledge of his or her mistake and (2) takes affirmative steps to get help with any problem or addition.
Our Pittsburgh lawyers fully appreciate the burden you face when contemplating a dispute over custody. You need a lawyer who has experience in these matters and who can suggest to you options to help resolve the matter efficiently with as little — or as much — court involvement as needed.
Learning Your Rights.
Fortunately, our Pittsburgh matrimonial attorneys talk to you for free of charge. Our Pittsburgh Pa lawyers give you an estimate of how long your case will take. Over the years, we have represented parents during claims for custody. We handle claims for total custody, partial custody and/or visitation only filed in Pennsylvania and also interstate claims. We also attend custody conferences and proceedings before hearing officers and judges and/or custody trials. Our attorneys also handle appeals to custody resolutions. Further, in the context of a custody case, we also handle other matters that may surface, such as Protection from Abuse Hearings (PFA) that take place while child support issues remain ongoing. We also help with PFA appeals. We negotiate with other lawyers to resolve the matter most efficiently. Our attorneys always try to negotiate with the other lawyer or lawyers involved in the case. Call our PA lawyers to speak with experienced family law attorneys on this matter.
Attorneys with Experience. Our Allegheny County (Pittsburgh) family law attorneys analyze issues concerning claims for custody by grandparents and other family members. Our lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA evaluate the basis for standing for a grandparent or other family member and we handle representation of grandparents and other family members at conferences, hearings, and trials. We handle these issues throughout Allegheny County (including Pittsburgh), Beaver County, and Washington Counties.
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