Child Custody

Matters of child custody are naturally of great concern to divorcing and separated parents. Long after the divorce decree has been issued, child custody issues can continue to be a source of friction between parents. In the long run, children are the ones who are hurt the most and in many instances it affects their lives as adults. We believe our role is to minimize the hurtful impact of the custody battles on our clients’ children by being reasonable and fair advocates. We work to achieve child custody arrangements that are practical, fair, and in the best interests of the children. We represent clients in matters involving:

  • Establishment of child custody orders (awards of primary custody, equal custody, and partial custody)
  • Modifications to existing custody orders
  • Parental relocations
  • Grandparent visitation
  • Contempt of child custody orders
How is Child Custody Determined?

Courts in Pennsylvania always seek child custody arrangements that are in the best interest of the child. That said, there are significant differences between counties, and different judges can interpret things in different ways. As highly experienced family law attorneys and divorce lawyers, we understand these differences and the criteria that different courts use to make their decisions. We are persuasive advocates who will use the law and our knowledge to achieve optimal child custody arrangements. Oftentimes, we can negotiate a solution with the attorney for the other parent. However, we are prepared to assertively litigate, when it is necessary to protect the rights and interests of our clients. Whether it involves a temporary or permanent child custody arrangement, a modification to an existing custody order, a proposed parental relocation, or any other child custody matter, Randi J. Vladimer, P.C., will work to achieve your goals as a parent, all while protecting your and you children’s interests.

In addition to being profoundly important to those involved, custody is one of the most complex, intricate and ongoing issues that arises in family law. As an initial matter, it is important to understand the difference between the various types of “custody.”

  • “Legal custody”: the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions.
    –  “Sole legal custody”: the right of one individual to exclusive legal custody of the child.
    –  “Shared legal custody”: the right of more than one individual to legal custody of the child.
  • “Physical custody”: the actual physical possession and control of a child.
    –  “Sole physical custody”: the right of one individual to exclusive physical custody of the child.
    –  “Primary physical custody”: the right to assume physical custody of the child for a majority of the time.
    –  “Shared physical custody”: the right of more than one individual to assume physical custody of the child, with each individual having significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.
    –  “Partial physical custody”: the right to assume physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.
  • “Visitation”: whenever this term appears in other statutes, it may mean partial physical custody, shared physical custody, or supervised physical custody.

Additionally, courts must consider a substantial number of factors in awarding any form of custody. The statute sets forth 15 specific factors for the court to consider, with the 16th factor allowing the court to consider any relevant factor (with the exception of gender, as the custody determination must be gender neutral). Moreover, before fashioning a custody award, the court might order the child(ren) and/or the parties to submit to, and fully participate in, an evaluation by an appropriate expert or experts to produce a report with a recommendation of the custody arrangements going forward. With respect to the role of custody and family law attorneys as it relates to the custody evaluation process, we will prepare you for the custody evaluation process, so as to make sure you get the most benefit from it. Thereafter, once the custody evaluation report and recommendation is completed, we will help you correctly interpret it and to prepare for the subsequent court hearing, by addressing the concerns and statements of the evaluator, particularly not the favorable ones, in such a context as to minimize their negative impact on the court decision.

In the event that allegations of abuse have been raised, any visitation granted may be subject to supervision by a neutral third party. Grandparents and stepparents may also be entitled to visitation privileges under certain circumstances.

If the children are old enough, the court may interview your child/children. However, while the court may take into consideration a child’s preference, they rarely ever ask the child/children who they would rather live with.

To schedule an appointment regarding custody of your children, contact us at Randi J. Vladimer, P.C. Our office represents people in custody cases in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Philadelphia, Bucks, and Berks counties. Our law firm conducts appointments in our Radnor office. However, in some circumstances, telephone appointments and other off site meeting places may be available.