A custody action is initiated by someone filing a custody complaint. The complaint is prepared by an attorney and signed by one of the parties seeking custody. A parent, grandparent or even a third party may file for custody. The complaint is filed in the Prothonotary's Office and served on all the parties named in the complaint.
Physical custody has to do with who the child resides with on a day to day basis as opposed to blocks of scheduled custodial time. Legal custody has to do with the right to be involved in important decision making affecting the child (religious, educational and medical). Both physical and legal custody can be primarily held by one of the parties or shared equally. In determining custody, the court will analyze several custody factors that are set forth by statutory law. Practically speaking, nearly anything is a potential factor in a custody dispute and the court will weigh all those factors.
A custody dispute is resolved by a standard called "best interest of the child". This simply means custody is determined on the basis of what is best for your child.
Custody cases are often times resolved at an initial custody conference attended by the parties and their lawyer. A custody conference officer listens to the parties' concerns and generally is tasked with helping the parties resolve their differences without having to go in front of a judge. If the case does not resolve at the conference, it will be assigned to a judge for a hearing.
We have been handling complex custody cases in Lancaster, Berks, York and Lebanon County for over a decade. Please contact our office to discuss your custody situation and find out how we can help your family.