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The Basics of Resolving Pittsburgh Child Custody Disputes

Pittsburgh child custody disputes can be very stressful for both parents and the child involved. It is in the best interests of all parties for the dispute to be resolved quickly and in a matter that is in the best interests of the child.

This article will explain the basics of resolving Pittsburgh child custody disputes. If you have questions specific to your child custody case, you can contact Pittsburgh child custody attorneys.

Pittsburgh Child Custody Court

All Pittsburgh child custody matters are heard in the Family Division of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. In most cases, the court will consider both shared custody and sole custody as options. Shared custody, also known as joint custody, is when both parents share some responsibility for the child. Sole custody, on the other hand, is when only one parent has responsibility over the child.

There are also two types of custody: Legal and physical. Legal custody means the parent has the right to make decisions regarding the child's needs, such as health care and education. Physical custody determines who the child actually lives with.

The parent who lacks custody of the child is known as the non-custodial parent. The Pittsburgh child custody court may award the non-custodial parent visitation rights and may also order the parent to pay child support.

Pittsburgh Child Custody Mediation

Parents who are going through a custody dispute must take part in the Pittsburgh Generations program. This mandatory two-part process program is a form of mediation. Mediation is a way to resolve child custody disputes outside of court in less stressful environment with the aide of an impartial third-party mediator.

The Generations Program includes an educational seminar for adults, an interactive group for children ages 6 through 15 and a mediation orientation session.

The mediation session is limited to the parents in the dispute. Children and attorneys are not allowed to attend. During this confidential session, parents can try to negotiate the terms of child custody with the aid of the third-party mediator.

If the parents come up with a parenting plan during mediation, they can present this agreement, known as a Memorandum of Understanding, to the Pittsburgh child custody court. This enables them to potentially avoid the lengthy, costly and stressful trial process.

Parents who don't come to an agreement will need to work out their dispute in court.

Factors Affecting Pittsburgh Child Custody Decisions

If parents cannot create a Memorandum of Understanding, they and their Pittsburgh child custody attorneys will have to resolve the custody dispute in court.

When making the decision of whom to award custody to, the judge will keep in mind the best interests of the child. In addition, he will consider the following factors:

  • The child's preference
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child's physical, emotional and intellectual well-being
  • Which parent is more likely to facilitate communication between the child and the non-custodial parent
  • History of abuse or criminal activity by either parent

If a parent is vying for sole custody, the parent will have to present evidence to prove it is in the best interests of the child to award sole custody.

After a Pittsburgh Child Custody Order Is Made

Once a judge signs the child custody order, both parents are bound by it. Even if the parents make an informal agreement out of court after the order has been made, it will not be legally binding.

Instead, if one or both parties wish to alter the child custody order, they will have to appeal to the court by filing a Petition for Modification to have the custody order revised.