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Will the Pennsylvania courts give one parent sole custody?

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2023 | Family Law |

Parents with minor children who decide to divorce or separate often worry about how the change in their romantic relationship might affect their rights as a parent. Many people worry about not seeing their children enough or losing contact with them entirely if they separate from the other parent. 

However, the Pennsylvania family courts tend to support the rights of both parents when sharing custody is necessary. Will a judge ever grant sole custody of the children in a family law case? 

Sole custody is a rare solution

In theory, judges do have the authority to give one parent control over decision-making matters for a child and the majority or all of the time with them. The family courts can even limit one parent to supervised visitation in some cases. 

However, for a judge to take such extreme steps, they would need to believe that they were in the best interests of the children. Typically, that means there is some significant issue with the family or the parents denied time with the children. 

Common reasons a judge will grant one parent sole custody include:

  • Abandonment
  • Issues with addiction
  • A history of domestic violence
  • Extreme instability 

In some cases, medical conditions that affect one parent’s ability to provide for the needs of the children could also influence custody matters. For most families, the courts will likely reach the conclusion that having both parents frequently present is what is in the best interest of the children. Most Pennsylvania parents will end up sharing time with their children and also decision-making authority for educational, religious and healthcare matters. 

Understanding what to expect in custody litigation can help parents prepare for family court.