Often, when parents get divorced, the court will designate one parent as the custodial parent and the other as the non-custodial parent. In this case, courts will typically set up a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent so they can continue to be a part of the child’s life. Please continue reading and reach out to a dedicated Montgomery County family lawyer from Cohen & Patel to learn more about visitation in Pennsylvania and how our legal team can assist you. Here are some of the questions you may have:
What is Visitation in PA & How is it Different from Child Custody?
Visitation rights, distinct from child custody, refer to the time a non-custodial parent spends with their child. Essentially, while custody encompasses the broader aspect of caring for and making decisions about the child, visitation focuses specifically on the time a non-custodial parent is allowed to spend with their child.
These terms are often used interchangeably, but they hold different legal meanings. Custody can be sole or joint, involving legal and physical aspects, whereas visitation is typically part of a custody arrangement, providing the non-custodial parent time with their child. The court’s primary focus is always the child’s best interests, a principle guiding both custody and visitation decisions.
How is Visitation Determined in Pennsylvania?
The process of determining visitation in Pennsylvania involves several factors. Family courts in Pennsylvania consider various aspects like the child’s age, parental relationship, and the child’s preference, if age-appropriate. These factors help ensure that the visitation schedule aligns with the child’s best interests.
Parents are encouraged to agree on a visitation schedule outside of court, often with the help of their attorneys or through mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will intervene, setting a visitation schedule based on the child’s needs and circumstances. The court might also consider factors such as the distance between parents’ residences and each parent’s ability to provide a stable, nurturing environment.
Can a Parenting Time Schedule Ever Be Modified and Under What Circumstances?
Circumstances change, and Pennsylvania law recognizes that visitation schedules may need to adapt. Significant life changes, like relocation, a change in job schedule, or concerns about the child’s welfare, can necessitate a visitation schedule modification. Either parent can request a modification, but they must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances that affects the child’s best interests.
The process typically involves filing a petition with the court that originally set the visitation schedule. During the modification proceedings, both parents can present their arguments and any relevant evidence to support their position. Ultimately, the court will decide based on the child’s current needs and well-being.
If you have any further questions about child visitation in Pennsylvania, or you’re currently seeking a modification to your initial custody or visitation agreement, please don’t hesitate to contact Cohen & Patel today.