Child Custody and PFA FAQ: Your Comprehensive Guide from Daley Zucker, Harrisburg’s Family Law Attorneys
March 4, 2024

When it comes to family law matters, child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders can be particularly challenging and emotionally charged. At Daley Zucker, we understand the importance of providing clarity and guidance during these difficult times.

Below, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding child custody and PFAs to address some common concerns and shed light on the legal aspects of these matters.

1. What factors do courts consider when determining child custody arrangements?

Courts consider various factors, including each parent’s ability to provide a stable environment, the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s adjustment to their community and school, and any history of abuse or neglect.

2. How is child custody decided in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania uses the “best interests of the child” standard, focusing on what will best serve the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs.

3. Can grandparents seek custody or visitation rights?

Yes, under certain circumstances grandparents can petition the court for custody or visitation if it is in the child’s best interests.

4. What is a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order?

A PFA order is a legal order intended to protect individuals from domestic violence.

5. How can I obtain a PFA order?

You can file for a PFA order at your local courthouse. If you are in immediate danger, seek help from law enforcement or a local domestic violence hotline.

6. Can a PFA order affect child custody arrangements?

Yes, a PFA order may impact child custody proceedings. The court will consider the circumstances surrounding the PFA order when making custody decisions. It is important to note that, while a PFA can address custody, a PFA is not a replacement for a Custody Order. If there is a PFA Order between parents or protecting a child, this will be considered in the custody action.

7. What happens if a PFA order is violated?

Violating a PFA order is a serious offense. The violator may face legal consequences, including fines, imprisonment, or both.

8. Can I modify an existing child custody order?

Yes, you can petition the court to modify a child custody order if there has been a significant change in circumstances that warrants a modification.

9. How is child support determined in Pennsylvania?

Child support is calculated based on a formula that considers factors such as each parent’s income, the number of children, and the custody arrangement.

10. Can a parent relocate with a child after a custody order is in place?

Relocation may require court approval. If a parent intends to move, they must provide notice to the other parent. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the court will assess whether the move is in the child’s best interests.

11. How long does a PFA order last?

A temporary PFA order may be granted initially, and a hearing will follow to determine if a final order is necessary. Final orders can have varying durations, often ranging from one to three years.

12. Can a PFA order be dropped or lifted?

The petitioner can request to drop or lift a PFA order, but the court will make the final decision based on the circumstances and the safety of all parties involved.

13. What evidence is needed for a successful child custody case?

Evidence may include witness testimony, character references, parenting plans, financial records, and any documentation supporting the child’s best interests.

14. Can a parent with a history of substance abuse obtain custody?

Substance abuse can significantly impact a parent’s ability to secure custody. Courts prioritize the child’s safety and well-being. If the parent can establish that they have sought treatment and established sobriety, a parent with a history of substance abuse can exercise custody. A parent in active substance abuse may have difficulty securing custody if there is a threat to the child’s safety. A Custody Order can require a parent to undergo drug testing or regular breath tests for alcohol consumption.

15. How can I prepare for a child custody hearing?

Consult with an experienced family law attorney, gather relevant documents, and be prepared to present your case clearly and truthfully.

Navigating child custody and PFA matters requires legal expertise and compassionate guidance. At Daley Zucker, our experienced family law attorneys are here to provide the support you need during these challenging times.

If you have additional questions or need personalized assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation. We are committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for your family.

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