Types of Physical Custody In Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, there are four different types of physical custody that a judge can award to parents. Most judges will be inclined to award shared custody, however, they will ultimately make a decision depending on the best interest of the child. It is important to understand each kind of physical custody in order to negotiate an agreement that works best for your family's unique situation.

Primary Physical Custody
  • When a judge grants primary physical custody to a parent, they are dictating that the child will spend a great majority of time with that parent. This form of custody is often awarded by judges who feel it is important for a child to have a single exclusive home for the sake of stability. However, it can also be a term used in joint custody to define the parent with whom a child spends slightly more time.

Shared Physical Custody
  • Also known as joint custody, shared physical custody means that a child spends an equal amount of time with both parents. in the past, custody laws tended to heavily favor mothers, however, recently, states have begun to favor shared physical custody to allow a suitable father to have equal share of time. Shared custody requires a large amount of cooperation between parents, and judges will often encourage a set agreement of schedules to be written into an order to avoid any tension or miscommunication.

Partial Physical Custody
  • Opposite to primary physical custody, partial physical custody is the term used to denote the parent with whom a child spends less than half the time. This is also known sometimes as visitation and usually involves a parent seeing a child a few hours or days a week or every other weekend. There are many factors involved in granting partial custody, and will ultimately be determined by the child's best interest.

Supervised Partial Physical Custody
  • This form of custody is also known as supervised visitation, and is typically only granted in scenarios in which one parent currently poses or has posed a threat to the child's well-being, including cases of abuse or neglect. Supervised custody allows a parent visitation rights for a couple hours or days a week under the supervision of a relative, friend, or a county agent, depending on the severity of the situation.

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