Many Pennsylvania parents trust in a family law judge to arrive at a fair child custody plan when they are divorcing or separating. Others find they can arrive at a more creative and individualized arrangement if they work it out together. No matter which method parents choose, certain factors are part of nearly every custody agreement.
First, it is critical that parents understand the difference between physical custody, which is where the child lives, and legal custody, which involves the important decisions concerning the child. A custody agreement will certainly determine a schedule for the child and the parents, including where the child will spend most of his or her time to avoid too much disruption. This means the other parent will have scheduled visitation, which should be as fair and balanced as possible.
A custody agreement should also stipulate which parents will make critical decisions. This may include issues like education, medical care, religion and even dietary restrictions. In many cases parents may share these responsibilities, but a custody agreement may outline a decision-making process. As the child grows older, this process may take on greater importance.
The main goal of a child custody agreement is to reach decisions that will most benefit the child. It may not be easy for parents to think long-term during these emotional times, but this is why it can be helpful to have a solid, neutral advocate throughout the process. An experienced Pennsylvania attorney often has wise suggestions and advice for reaching a peaceful and workable solution.