Child Custody in Pittsburgh

Legal and Physical Custody

In Pittsburgh cases regarding child custody, the court must order which party is granted legal custody and physical custody, as well as determine physical custody type. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s life, such as medical, religious, and educational matters. Sole legal custody of a child grants one party complete control over these decisions, without a requirement for input by the other party. Shared legal custody requires consultation of both custodial parties before a major decision concerning the child is made. Failure to consult the other party could result in legal penalties for the offending party, pending circumstances. Physical custody is the legal right to have care of a child, of which there four different types:
  • Primary – One party has majority physical care of the child, sometimes with no granted visitation by the second party.
  • Shared – Both parties share frequent unsupervised visitation time with the child, whether for short or extended periods of time.
  • Partial – A party can file for partial custody of a child, which grants unsupervised visitation for a short period of time, in regular intervals (i.e. 10 hours per week, every other weekend, etc.)
  • Supervised Visitation – The party that is granted supervised visitation may only see the child under the supervision of a court-approved individual. The supervising party can be a relative or friend of the primary guardian, however in serious cases, this is an agency or individual appointed by the court.
The two parties can reach an agreement on custody and visitation rights without the mediation of a judge. If such an agreement is reached, the agreement is taken to a judge to be put into an Order of the Court. If an agreement cannot be reached independently, the case moves in front of a judge, whom will appoint custody in the best interest of the child after hearing pleas from both parties.

Pennsylvania Child Custody Court

If the two parties cannot reach an agreement regarding custody and visitation rights, the case goes before a judge to appoint custody and visitation in the child’s best interests. If a court conference does not yield an agreement, the court can intervene, sometimes with a home study and psychological evaluation of each parent, to determine what is best for the child. After the custody trial and presentation of cases for each side, the judge will make a decision. In deciding primary custody and visitation rights of each party, the judge will consider environmental and psychological factors, including:
  • Criminal history, more importantly violent crimes and conduct
  • History of drug and alcohol abuse
  • Current living situations
  • General conduct and capability of positive relationship
  • Not separating siblings
  • Preference of the child
The judge normally does not consider income levels of either party, so long as each parent could provide the child with basic needs in a loving environment. Gender is no longer a factor for consideration.

Questions regarding child custody?

We know that custody cases are an emotionally taxing ordeal, which is why our law firm provides top care for our clients, keeping their interests at the forefront of the case. Call the Pittsburgh law firm of Joseph Horowitz at (###) ###-#### to ask any questions you may have regarding child custody and inquire about your rights as a parent or guardian.