Custody Usually Comes First.
When it comes to family law, we list custody first. Custody is typically the overwhelming priority of parents going through a separation.
There are two types of custody recognized by our courts: legal and physical. Legal custody involves your right to access important documents pertaining to your children, to have access to teachers, doctors, etc., and to have a say in major decisions relating to the well being of your children. Physical custody involves your rights regarding custodial or visitation periods with your children.
In Pennsylvania, the only enforceable document relating to custody is a court order. Many people believe that the police will sort out their custody disputes. Typically, the police will simply inform parents that they have no authority to intervene without a court order. Many police will not intervene in custody disputes even when parents have a court order. Technically, it is the court's job to enforce custody orders. And the court has a variety of ways to do so.
Our attorneys recommend that separated parents obtain custody orders because they provide security. The easiest (and therefore least expensive) time to do so is actually in situations where separated parents are getting along and are in basic agreement to a custody arrangement. So long as parents are in agreement to informally alter the terms of a court order they may do so. However, a court order controls in the absence of an alternative agreement.
No two situations regarding separated parents are exactly alike and, therefore, very few custody court orders are exactly alike. Parents are in the best position to know what type of custody arrangements fit the best interests of their particular children. All good custody attorneys strive to keep decision making regarding custody in the hands of the parents rather than in the hands of a judge. With skillful negotiation it is very common for parents to obtain custody court orders by agreement without ever entering a courtroom.
Alas, we do not live in a perfect world and agreement is not always in the works. Mark F. Bayley has handled hundreds of custody cases. Nobody is better suited to assist you with your custody situation from negotiation to trial. Attorney Bayley is not only experienced in the courtroom, he is a parent himself.
If you are a parent contemplating separation or going through a separation and are concerned about your custody rights you should contact an experienced custody attorney at once. The early days of separation are typically the most chaotic. Unrepresented parents routinely make poor decisions that jeopardize and undermine their position in regard to custody.
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