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Why Do I Need a Custody Order in PA?

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By Attorney Nichole A. Collins, Custody Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

A custody order in PA sets forth the parameters in which two parents will exercise both legal and physical custody of the child(ren).  Absent this order, the parties will have to agree on how best to share custody.  If one party does not agree at any given time, the other party cannot do anything about it.  The courts and police will not enforce a verbal agreement between two parties.

If I don't have an order, can the other parent deny me my agreed upon custody?

Yes.  Two parties that do not have a custody order do not have anything that forces either party to continue to abide by the terms of their verbal agreement.  A custody action and order is the way in which you can enforce your rights.

If I file for custody, will I lose some of my time that I currently have?

Probably not.  If you and the other party are sharing custody and generally are able to work things out between you, there's no reason that the court wouldn't simply impose the current agreement by imposing an order.  There is always the possibility that if you cannot agree on how the specifics will look in your order, that the court will impose their own upon the parties.

If there is no order, can the other parent keep the kids from me?

Yes, however, it's never a good idea to deny any contact between the child(ren) and a natural parent, unless there are abuse concerns.

They won't allow me to see my kids anymore, what should I do?

You should file a complaint in custody with the court in the jurisdiction where the kids have lived for the last 6 months.  You may also desire to file a Petition for Special or Emergency Relief if you've been denied contact for a longer period of time.  The courts don't like when one party has unilaterally decided to withold the kids from another due to petty reasons.

They don't pay child support anymore, so does this mean they won't get custody too?

No.  The payment of child support is not a condition to exercise custody rights.  However, it is a factor that the court will look at in order to determine which party is best able to care for the child(ren).  The only way in which a parent that does not pay their child support can lose their rights is through an involuntary or voluntary termination of parental rights.  The other parent should, however, have another party that is ready, willing and able to adopt.

If you have questions concerning child custody, support or custody orders in PA, contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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