The Do’s and Don’ts of Your Custody Case

Getting divorced or separated is one of the most emotionally draining experiences one can go through. That stress increases exponentially when children are involved. The hope is that most parents will be able to put their differences aside and come to an agreement on custody without getting the court involved. Unfortunately, in many cases that is just not possible.

If a custody hearing is necessary, there are 16 factors that the court in Pennsylvania must consider when deciding custody cases. The factors include the duties performed by each parent, who is more likely to attend to the children’s daily needs, which parent is more likely to promote the relationship between the children and the other parent, and the level of conflict between the parties. All of the Pennsylvania custody factors can be found at 23 Pa.C.S. Section 5328. So in order for the court to make any custody determination, the judge has to go through each of the 16 factors and decide if that factor should be in favor of one parent or the other. If more factors fall in favor of one of the parents, that parent would likely be awarded more custody of the children.

The emotions involved in a custody case can often cloud a parent’s judgment. Decisions or actions are hastily made that can end up having a significant negative impact on the case. For example, one parent might send an innocuous text to other parent about scheduling custody and the response is a flurry of curse words and disparaging statements about their parenting skills. A single outburst like this is not at all uncommon and would likely not be problematic. However, if there is a pattern of this type of behavior, the court will take notice. In this series of articles, I will be discussing some of the day-to-day conduct and behaviors of parents and the effect they can have on the custody case. The topics include the following:

Check back soon for part one which will discuss how you communicate with the other parent affects custody and how emails and texts have become crucial pieces of evidence in the custody case.

Scott Matison focuses solely on family law matters including divorce, custody, support, abuse, adoptions and name changes. He can be reached at 267-332-1175 or