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Factors Considered in An Award of Custody in PA under New 2010 Statute

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Prior to 2010, the Court's were to consider a number of factors that were spelled out through years of case law.  The New 2010 Statute has set these factors forth into 15 considerations and one "catch-all" category.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Child Custody Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

In coming to a final determination about a custodial schedule, a court must now look at the factors listed in the New Custody Act.  These factors apply to all cases, despite the case existing prior to the passage of the new Statute's active date of January 24, 2010.  This is because the Legislature clearly intended all custody matters to be viewed under the Act. 

The Factors are as follows:

§ 5328. Factors to consider when awarding custody  (a) Factors.--In ordering any form of custody, the court shall determine the best interest of the child by considering all relevant factors, giving weighted consideration to those factors which affect the safety of the child, including the following:

(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.

(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party's household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.

(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.

(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.

(5) The availability of extended family.

(6) The child's sibling relationships.

(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.

(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.

(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.

(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.

(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties.

(12) Each party's availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.

(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party's effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.

(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party's household.

(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party's household.

(16) Any other relevant factor.

The factors are to be given weight on a case by case basis. No two cases will ever be the same, despite having the same factors considered. This is because different weight can be accorded to each factor.  Further, individual judges may make different assessments as to the weight to be given a particular factor in a given case.

Having counsel available to identify and assist you in how best to promote these factors is crucial.  You may contact the experienced team at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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