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What Decisions Can a Custodial Parent Make?

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A physical custodian may make choices regarding the care of a child during their periods of physical custody

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Family Law Practitioner, Harrisburg, PA

I recently dealt with an issue that involved whether the parent in physical custody of the child could decide who to hire as a babysitter.  To my amazement, two other family law Practitioners believed that the decision had to be made by both legal custodians.  In other words, the parent in physical custody of the child had to gain the advice and consent of the other parent, before they could hire a particular babysitter.  The truth is, the parent in physical custody of the child at the time may make those decisions as long as it does not negatively impact upon the health, safety and welfare of the child.

The Courts of PA have long held that notwithstanding the policy that each parent share in the rights and responsibilities of child rearing after the separation or dissolution of the marriage, a custodial parent generally has the right to make the major decisions affecting the best interest of the minor child.  Each parent has parental authority during lawful periods of custody or visitation.

Specifically, one PA Court held that during lawful periods of visitation a non-custodial parent has parental authority, and restrictions will only be imposed on that authority by consent, or upon clear demonstration that in absence of the proposed restriction, visitation will have a detrimental impact on the child.  Zummo v. Zummo (Pa. Superior Court 1990).

If you have questions concerning a custody matter, litigation or child support, contact an experienced attorney for advice.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

1 Comment

Thanks for sharing this situation. Today often it's difficult to decide what one should do when your child is visiting for a weekend. What seems like common sense often is not that common.

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