Caught Up in Custody? Take one step closer to figuring it out
By: Sommer Falgowski Poppe, Esq.
Are you separated from your child's parent, and trying to figure out the next steps in gaining your desired custody? Are you caught up in a “custody battle” and not sure how the Court will review your case?
Many clients come to Sheridan Lawyers seeking assistance in their particular custody matter, and we have experience assisting our clients in finding a resolution in their custody matters. As #MomsFightingforMoms, Holly and I, as mothers and attorneys, can truly understand that this time in your life can be extraordinarily stressful, emotionally exhausting, and many times, downright confusing. Therefore, at Sheridan Lawyers, it is our priority to deliver our dynamic representation to each of our clients' specific needs to make sure you do not feel lost or overwhelmed.
What does the Court look at when it comes to my custody case?
As a basis, when it comes to a family unit separating, custody is usually a point of contention because both parents have equal custodial rights of their minor child. However, if the Court becomes involved in a custodial matter, the Court does not simply look at the parents’ wishes. As the Court in S.M. v. J.M. succinctly stated, “[i]n a child custody matter the paramount concern of the trial court is the best interest of the child.”
So, what are the best interests of the child, and how are they analyzed by the Court? To answer the former question, Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute §5328 outlines each factor the court might use in a “best interest of the child” analysis. To answer the latter, the amount of weight that a court places on any one factor outlined in §5328 is almost entirely discretionary. Therefore, in no specific order, I will begin to analyze the factors that the Court looks at, which have legitimate effects upon the child’s physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual well-being. First, let's examine an overview of what continuing contact is.
You might be asking yourself, "Okay… What does continuing contact mean to the Court, and especially, what does it mean in my situation?"
Basically, which parent is more likely to permit frequent and continuing contact with the other parent? When one parent does not have custody of the child at that time, which parent is more likely to allow their child to FaceTime with Mom or Dad? Which parent is more likely to allow the child to have an age-appropriate phone call with the non-custodial parent and not interrupt? A good parent should be willing to allow the non-custodial parent reasonable communication with the child, despite their personal feelings towards the other parent.
Please keep an eye out for the continuation of my “Best Interests of the Child” series, as we will begin to look at numerous different "Best Interests Factors". Importantly, if you’re confused on where to go next with your custody matter and if you need legal advice, we encourage you to call Sheridan Lawyers at (484)653-0774 to schedule a free one-hour consultation with a family law attorney.
Till next time!
At Sheridan Lawyers, we have two full-time family law attorneys ready to meet your needs, partner Holly K. Sheridan, Esq., and associate Sommer Falgowski Poppe, Esq.
Each Holly and Sommer have young children themselves, and can personally understand how important children are to their parents. Holly and Sommer are proud to be #MomsFightingForMoms
 S.M. v. J.M., 811 A.2d 621, 624 (Pa. Super. 2002) (emphasis added).  O.G. v. A.B., 234 A.3d 766, 777 (Pa. Super. 2020) (citing M.J.M. v. M.L.G., 63 A.3d 331, 339 (Pa. Super. 2013) (“It is within the trial court's purview as the finder of fact to determine which factors are most salient and critical in each particular case”)).  Alfred v. Braxton, 659 A.2d 1040, 1042 (Pa. Super. 1994).