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Bucks County Child Custody Lawyer

Why You Need Susan Gibson as Your Child Custody Lawyer

Focusing on the needs of your entire family

Getting the custody or visitation outcome you want for your children can be difficult, especially if your ex is uncooperative. Your custody lawyer in Doylestown streamlines the process and protects your rights.

Here's how Susan Gibson helps your case:

She'll Investigate Your Case & Gather Information

Child custody cases can get very inflammatory, with both parties making accusations. If custody or visitation should be restricted, it's essential to gather as much information as possible. However, if you have been erroneously accused, you need to prove those claims are false.

Our child custody law firm will discover the truth in your case.

She Knows Child Custody Laws

Child custody and visitation matters often involve complex legal issues that must be considered. You need a custody lawyer in Bucks County who understands the law and applies it to your case in a beneficial manner.

Susan Gibson has almost 15 years of experience protecting parents' interests in child custody cases.

She'll Stand Beside You in Court

Many child custody and visitation cases require multiple court conferences and hearings. You don't want to go to these alone. Our Doylestown child custody lawyers ensure your rights are adequately represented.

Gibson Family Law, PLLC helps you get the court order you need.

Types of Child Custody in Pennsylvania

Ensuring you and your child are together when it matters most

Two types of custody exist in Pennsylvania: physical custody and legal custody. There are variations of these types of custody that determine which parent has time with and makes decisions regarding the child.

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to the child living with a parent. There are different types of physical custody that describe a child's living situation.

  • Sole Physical Custody – The child spends all of their time with one parent
  • Primary Physical Custody – The child primarily lives with one parent (called a “custodial parent”), but they often spend substantial time with the other.
  • Partial Physical Custody – The time spent with the non-primary custodial parent is call partial custody
  • Equally Shared Physical Custody – The child spends equal time with both parents.

Legal Custody

Legal custody allows parents to make critical decisions about a child's life. Like physical custody, legal custody may be sole legal custody or shared legal custody. The issues decided by parents with legal custody include:

  • Medical care
  • Schooling and education
  • Religious upbringing
  • Extracurricular activities

How is Child Custody Determined in Pennsylvania?

There are two ways Pennsylvania determines child custody: with a child custody agreement between the two parents or through court. In either case, a judge is the final decision maker about whether the situation is in the child's best interests.

Making an Agreement with Your Child's Other Parent

It is almost always best to agree with your child's other parent regarding custody and visitation. This ensures all matters important to both parties are considered. You can customize your time schedule and address issues the court might not know (such as one parent's need to travel for work).

Hire an Experienced Attorney

When negotiating a child custody agreement, you should recruit a child custody attorney with significant experience handling cases like yours. If you don't have legal representation, you may not get the best custody arrangement for you and your child.

Explain Your Goals

When negotiating a child custody agreement, you should first explain to your attorney what is most essential to you. You should be clear about what custody arrangement you prefer and outline why.

Then, you should discuss every holiday, school break, and other times you want to spend with your child. All these details can be laid out in a proposed agreement.

The Other Parent's Attorney Will Review Your Agreement

Your bucks county child custody lawyer will then take your proposed agreement to the other parent's attorney, and your child's other parent will review it. They may make changes and present them to you. The goal is to reach a mutually acceptable outline of child custody and visitation that is in your child's best interests and meets the needs of both parents.

Going to Court to Decide Child Custody

If you and the other parent absolutely cannot reach an agreement, or if the matter is highly volatile, a court may decide what's best. In that case, you must present information to a judge, who then considers both sides of the case.

A judge is only interested in what's best for the child, not the parents.

Factors That Determine Custody

A judge considers many factors when determining child custody, including:

  • Which party is more likely to encourage and permit contact with the other parent
  • History of domestic violence or past abuse
  • Parental duties performed by each parent on behalf of the child
  • Who can provide stability for the child in education, family life, and community life
  • Availability of extended family
  • A child's relationship with siblings
  • The child's preference (based on the child's maturity level)
  • Attempts of one parent to turn the child against the other parent
  • Ability of the parents to provide a loving, stable, consistent, and nurturing relationship with the child
  • Ability of the parents to provide for the daily physical, emotional, developmental, and educational needs of the child
  • Proximity of the parent's residences
  • Availability of childcare to each parent
  • Level of conflict between the parents (and willingness to cooperate)
  • History of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Mental and physical condition of the parents and other household members
  • Other relevant factors

Role of the Court Conciliation and Evaluation Services Program

Bucks County's Court Conciliation and Evaluation Services (CCES) provides parenting education, co-parenting counseling, conciliation efforts, and evaluation services in child custody cases in Bucks County. These elements offer time-saving and cost saving benefits to parties in complicated custody matters.

CCES provides an Agreed-Upon Parenting Plan or Recommended Parenting Plan to be considered by the parents and the judge. They also offer a full report that considers the factors mentioned above to determine the child's best interest.

Even though CCES helps you reach an agreement with your child's other parent, you should still hire a child custody attorney in Doylestown to represent you. CCES is primarily concerned about what's best for your child. You need someone on your side protecting your rights.

Child Custody FAQs

Child custody and visitation matters can be emotional, and they often result in confusion. We're here to answer some of your most common questions.

Who Can Get Custody of a Child?

In most cases, the court awards custody to one or both biological parents of a child. This is often a goal – to keep a child with their parent. However, Pennsylvania allows other categories of people to seek custody under limited circumstances. Most notably, grandparents have the right to file custody actions if the parents are unavailable due to drug/alcohol abuse, or neglect.

Additionally, if a child has lived with a grandparent for some length of time, the grandparent may also seek a custody order. In even rarer circumstances, other third parties may have the right to seek custody of a child when the parents are not available or deceased.

An experienced custody lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible to seek custody of a child as a non-parent.

Will Custody Arrangements Impact Child Support Payments?

Yes. Typically, the noncustodial parent pays child support to the parent with primary (or sole) physical custody. This is because the parent with primary physical custody generally has a larger share of the expenses for the child.

However, if the parents share physical custody, the parent with the higher child support obligation will be responsible for paying the other parent child support.

How Are the Interests of the Child Considered in a Child Custody Case?

The court's main concern is to allocate child custody and visitation to benefit the child. The child's best interests are the primary determination of child custody.

Even if parents make an agreement, the court reviews that agreement with the child's interests in mind. The court considers many factors (detailed above) when deciding what's in the child's best interest.

What Happens if the Primary Custodial Parent Wants to Move?

If the primary custodial parent wants to move a significant distance away or out of state, they must petition the court to do so or have an agreement with the other parent.

The move may interfere with the relationship between the child and their other parent, so the court wants to ensure a plan is in place that allows that relationship to continue.

If a parent moves without agreement or court order allowing it, they could face contempt charges, including penalties like fines and even jail time.

Let Gibson Family Law, PLLC Handle Your Child Custody Case

We know everything you love is at stake when dealing with a child custody case. Attorney Susan Gibson has worked with family law cases like yours for almost 15 years. She is passionate about getting her clients the outcome they want and deserve.

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Gibson Family Law is committed to representing you in Divorce, Equitable Distribution, Child Custody, Child Support, Spousal Support/APL, and Alimony matters. Gibson Family Law also has extensive experience with Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, and family law issues specific to the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.