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Lawmaker seeks to modify how child custody time is determined

Marriages can be a blessing when things are going well or a curse when they are not. Some couples may decide that divorce is a better option, especially if minor children are frequently subjected to a hostile marital environment. However, the parents will be faced with making a parenting plan concerning care of the children. Pennsylvania has its own child custody laws that will need to be considered when addressing these issues.

Over the past several years, a number of states have taken a fresh look at how child custody is awarded. For decades, it was typical for a family court to award joint custody with primary physical custody awarded to the mother and the father receiving varying degrees of time through visitation. Alternatively, the mother was often awarded sole custody with the father getting visitation rights. Recently, a lawmaker in yet another state has introduced a bill that would provide for shared custody in those situations that it can be accomplished safely. The lawmaker lamented that the custody laws in his state are outdated and do a disservice to children by denying them equal time with each parent.

In its current form, the bill mandates that neither parent be granted more than 200 overnight stays with a child in a calendar year unless the parents decided otherwise. This would permit both parents to have more equal access to their child in order to maintain strong relationships. However, opponents of the bill claim that the best needs of the child are being superseded by the wants of a parent.

The Michigan bill has cleared the first hurdle and awaits further action. Pennsylvania laws have not been modified to automatically allow for shared equal custody as of yet, but they do allow for joint child custody in those circumstances that would best serve the needs of the child and where it is practical. A Pennsylvania parent who is confronting child custody issues may benefit from the input and support of a family law attorney.

Source: wilx.com, "Lawmaker pushing joint custody bill", Sept. 27, 2017

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