If you have children, and are going through a divorce or separation a major thought on your mind is probably what is going to happen with the kids? Who is going to get custody? How is custody decided? What are the different types of custody schedules? These are all very valid and important questions and I know these thoughts can cause anxiety, fear and worry as well. This will give you a little overview on the types of custody in Pennsylvania to try inform you of more information and try and answer some of your questions.

First of all, there are two types of custody. There is legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions for child. Decisions such as where your child attends school, what doctors your child sees, if they are involved in any religious activities are all examples of what would fall under the category of legal custody. Usually legal custody is shared between parents, however in some circumstances legal custody may be solely awarded to one parent.

Next, there is physical custody. Physical custody refers to who the child is physically with. Typically, in any court order there would be an included physical custody schedule. The first kind of physical custody is sole physical custody. This is where one parent has physical custody of the child 100% of the time. Another form of physical custody is shared legal custody where parents share physical custody time. The two common schedules with shared physical custody are 50/50 or a primary/partial schedule. In a 50/50 physical custody schedule the parents share custody and each have the child 50% of the time. A common schedule for this is called a 2, 2, 3 schedule where one parent has the child Monday and Tuesday night, the other parent Wednesday and Thursday night and then the parents alternate week to week who has the child Friday through Sunday. There are other schedules that can be worked out as well. With a primary/partial schedule this is where one parent has physical custody time more than the other. An example of this type of schedule would be where one parent has custody every other weekend. A third custody arrangement could also be supervised visitation. This would mean that one parent would have custody of the child however the other parent has the right to visit with the child so long as they are properly supervised.

Being in an abusive relationship is very scary, stressful and difficult. You may have found yourself in an abusive relationship suffering from abuse from your partner, either physically, mentally or emotionally. If you are in an abusive relationship you can and should seek protection from the court. A Protection from Abuse order (PFA) is an order from the court that orders the abuser to have no contact with you. These orders can last anywhere up to 36 months. If you are in an abusive relationship and seek protection, a PFA is a way to get peace of mind that your abuser will stay away from you.

You may be wondering, even if you get a PFA your abuser might not follow it. What happens then? If the person you have a PFA against in any way violates any part of the order they could be found in contempt. You would want to file a contempt complaint with the court. That person would then be ordered to a hearing about the contempt where testimony could be presented regarding the particular contempt violation. The consequences for a contempt violation vary on the seriousness of the violation in particular. Those consequences range from extension of the PFA, fines, and incarceration.  by Meghan Fleming