A child’s education has lifelong effects. If you’re divorced or separated from the other parent, you may not agree on how to handle your child’s education. You must resolve this issue between yourselves with the help of an attorney, or a judge in Bucks or Montgomery County may need to make the decision.

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., is a team of lawyers and staff in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have significant family law experience and have worked hard to build a law firm that can address your child custody needs, including disputes over your child’s education. If you have any questions or need help, call us at (215) 608-1867, book a free consultation online now, or contact us by email.

Parents usually make educational decisions about their kids. If parents are divorced or never married and had their parental rights formalized in court, a judge decided who has legal custody. This includes the ability to make important decisions for the child regarding such issues as education. In most cases, legal custody is shared by both parents. In relatively rare cases, a parent may give up their parental rights, or a judge decides it is not in the child’s best interests for a parent to have any legal custody.

Educational Issues That Can Split the Two Parents

If the two of you agree on issues, it’s not a problem. But if your child’s life is complicated and as more issues come up, there are more opportunities for disagreement:

  • Your child may have learning disabilities or other special needs. Your child will need more help from his or her school, but the school may not want to provide it. Parents may disagree on whether the child should attend another school or get private tutoring.
  • Your child may be gifted and have their own needs to be successful. Your child’s learning opportunities and how hard they should be pushed to excel can lead to disputes.
  • There can be public, private, and religious schools in the area. One parent may prefer one, the other parent may want the child to go to another.
  • Education can be part of a dispute when one parent wants the child to move with them away from the area. The child would attend a new school and the other parent may believe that is not in the child’s best interests because their education and friendships would be disrupted.
  • An athletically gifted child can present challenges. A parent may want the child to stay back a grade to perform better in sports at school. A private school may have a better athletic program, so one parent wants the child to transfer, while the other disagrees and doesn’t want to pay half the tuition.

If you can’t agree on important educational issues, Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can represent you to help negotiate a decision both parties can accept. If not, these issues can be litigated and eventually decided at a trial. But that’s an expensive, time-consuming option that should only be used for very serious issues critical to your child’s success in school.

Your Attitude Toward Your Child’s Education Can Impact Your Child Custody Order

If you’re thinking about divorce or considering getting a child custody order, or one is already in place, you must think about your child’s education and your role in it. One way to show you should keep or be given shared or sole legal custody is to be actively engaged in your child’s education. Communicate with the teacher, attend meetings, and actively address problems as they come up. If you’re not interested in your child’s schooling and are indifferent to their success, it can be used against you by the other parent. They might argue that you having legal custody of your child is not in the child’s best interest so it shouldn’t be granted or it should be taken away.

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

If you have questions about child custody or need help enforcing or changing a custody order, call our office at (215) 608-1867 or book a consultation online now. We can speak over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in one of our offices in Doylestown or Langhorne.

There may be times where a Grandparent is worried about the situation that they see their grandchild in. They might be concerned for their safety or well-being. Other times it could be that the grandchild has lived with them for some time now and they just want to have an official document saying that the child is in their custody. They might need a custody order in order to be able to sign off on certain things for the child. The fact is that in Pennsylvania it is possible for a Grandparent to get custody, however there is certain criteria that needs to be met.

In Pennsylvania in order for a grandparent to get custody rights they need to have standing. To have standing means that your scenario complies with what the law says is required in order to get custody. To have standing a grandparent of the child cannot be in loco parentis. To be in loco parentis means acting as the parent in place of the parent. Usually you have to be in that situation for a long period of time. The next requirement by law is that the grandparent must have a relationship with the child that started with the consent of the parents. The next requirement is that the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child.

The next requirement requires that one of the following scenarios is true.

(A) the child has been determined to be a dependent child under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters);

(B) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or

(C) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

 

Either A, B, C also needs to apply in order to have standing for custody as a Grandparent. However, even if you do not have standing for custody, you might have standing as a Grandparent for visitation, which is different. If you do not have standing by are curious about whether you have standing for visitation be sure to see my blog post on Grandparent visitation rights. If you are a Grandparent in Pennsylvania and want custody of your Grandchild pleas schedule an appointment with us today.

If you are a Grandparent your Grandchildren are probably pretty important to you. You probably enjoy spending time with them, watching them learn and develop into the person they are becoming. However, what happens if you are being denied time with your Grandchildren by a parent? What if the parent refuses to let you see the child or have any contact with them what so ever? This can be a very difficult situation to be faced with. However, in Pennsylvania Grandparents do have rights to visit their Grandchildren.

In order to assert these rights however, certain circumstances need to be met. The first scenario where a Grandparent can file for visitation rights is when one of the child’s parents is deceased. The second scenario where a Grandparent can assert visitation rights with a child is when the child’s parents have been separated for at least six (6) months or have filed a divorce or separation action. The third scenario is if the child has lived with the Grandparent that is seeking the visitation, for at least 12 months. In any of these scenarios the Grandparent filing must demonstrate that partial custody or visitation serves the grandchild’s best interest and also does not interfere with the child-parent relationship.

If you are a Grandparent in Pennsylvania and are seeking visitation of your Grandchild please contact our office today to discuss your options.

If you have children and have previously been through the custody process with the Court it is likely that it resulted with a Court Order. A Court Order for custody is issued in a Custody proceeding. This Order will direct which parent has legal and physical custody. Legal Custody is the right to make decisions for your child. Decisions such as where they go to school, what doctors they see, if they are involved in any religious activities would all fall under legal custody. The Custody Order will specify if one parent has sole legal custody or if legal custody is shared. If parents have shared legal custody they must consult each other about decisions in their children’s lives. A Custody Order will also direct who has physical custody. Physical custody is who the children are physical with. An Order could direct that one parent has sole physical custody or that the physical custody is shared. If the physical custody is shared the Order will probably also set out a schedule as to when the children are with each parent.

If you have a Custody Order and circumstances have changed or new developments have occurred you might think that the Order needs to be changed because the situation has. That is ok. Custody is always modifiable. If you have a Custody Order and you are seeking it to be changed we can help you with that. We would file a Modification of Custody requesting that the Custody be modified. If you are in Pennsylvania and have a Custody Order that you need to have changed, please call our office for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your options.

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.

Section 5325 of the Domestic Relations laws sets out the circumstances under which grandparents and great-grandparents may petition for partial custody/visitation. One of three conditions must be met: (1) a parent of the child is deceased; (2) the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months AND don’t agree on whether the grandparent or great-grandparent should have custody/visitation; or (3) the child has lived with the grandparents or great-grandparents for at least 12 consecutive months provided a petition is filed within six months after the child is removed from the home.

Non-biological grandparents also have the right to seek grandparent visitation rights where they stand in loco parentis to one of the parents of the child and it’s in the child’s best interest. In loco parentis embodies an assumption of parental status as well as an actual discharge of parental duties giving rise to a relationship which is the same as between parent and child. It is also possible for grandparents to request primary custody under Section 5324 of the Domestic Relations laws if they stand in loco parentis to the child. Again, in loco parentis means more than just taking on a frequent caretaker position. Under Section 5324, a grandparent can also file where they are unable to establish in loco parentis but can establish an existing relationship with the child and that the child is at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, or drug/alcohol abuse.

Sections 5324 and 5325 of the Domestic Relations statute sets out the circumstances under which grandparents and great-grandparents may petition for custody/visitation. Section 5324 deals with partial custody or visitation and requires that at least one of three conditions be met: (1) a parent of the child is deceased; (2) the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months and do not agree on partial custody/visitation to a grandparent or great-grandparent; or (3) the child has lived with the grandparents or great-grandparents for at least 12 consecutive months provided a petition is filed within six months after the child is removed from the home.

Section 5325 deals with standing to request primary physical custody as well as legal custody. Grandparents must establish the relationship began with the consent of the parents, they are willing to assume responsibility for the child and the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity. After establishing standing, the best interests analysis that is conducted in all custody cases still applies and the court must weigh all relevant factors. Section 5328(c), concerning custody awards to grandparents and great-grandparents, requires the court to specifically consider amount of personal contact between the child and the grandparent prior to filing and whether an award of custody to a grandparent or great-grandparent would interfere with any parent-child relationship.

When two people have a child together, whether married or not, sometimes it just does not work out and they decide to separate. It is great when two parents who are no longer together have a strong co parenting relationship and can remain amicable with each other for the sake of their children. If you find yourself in one of those relationships you might think that you do not need a child support order because you and the other parent work everything out on your own and so far you have had no issues. While it may seem great that you are able to work everything out between the two of you, it is best to seek a child support order issued by the court.

Why would you want to get a child support order when you have been working it out yourselves? What happens if the payments that you have relied on and worked out between you two stop coming in. What course of action do you have? You call the other parent, you email them but no matter what you do they still are not receiving any financial assistance for your child. They keep telling you they will have it to you soon and then months go by and you have not received anything. By having a child support order you are protecting yourself from this scenario. In most child support orders, if the other parent is a W-2 employee, the child support will be attached to the other parent’s wages so as long as they are being paid you can be assured you will get your support payment. If there is an order and the payments are made directly to you and they stop paying you have options there as well if you have a support order. You can file for enforcement of the child support payments. Having a child support order protects and reassures you that the financial support you rely on for your child will not just disappear one day.

If you are currently married and in a physically or mentally abusive relationship, it can be a very tarrying situation that you might be desperate to get out of. You might be thinking of leaving or filing for divorce but have that voice in your head telling you it is not a good idea because of the potential reaction from your spouse. What if filing for the divorce causes the abuse to escalate when they find out? If your spouse already has a history of abuse towards you, the fear you have might take over and prevent you from following through with the decision to follow through with filing for divorce, and separating from them finally.

If there is a history of abuse you can file a petition for a Protection from Abuse Order while you prepare to file for divorce. To get a protection from abuse order you would first want to file with the court. Then likely, a Judge would issue a temporary order without the abuser being present while a future hearing date is scheduled. Both you and the abuser would then have to appear before a Judge at the later date. At this hearing either the abuser can consent to the Protection Order, or request to have a hearing where the Judge would hear testimony and make an order. These types of orders can last for any duration of time up to 36 months. If the abuser were to violate any such order they would be held in contemp. Consequences of a contempt violation can range from fines to jail time. When you are in an abusive marriage and desperate to get out but just fearful of what will happen if you try, a Protection from Abuse order can grant you that peace of mind to be able to file and get divorced with added protection from your abuser’s potential reaction.

Our country is still battling the spread of a new virus and with that, new questions as to custody exchanges in the event of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis or suspected exposure. First and foremost, be compliant with your existing Order to the extent possible. This virus is not a reason to keep your child from seeing their other parent. If exact compliance with your Order is not possible, be reasonable in making necessary accommodations to permit shared custody to continue. It’s also key to try to be on the same page regarding best practices. Be prepared to discuss and model good behavior for your child(ren) in both homes including hand washing, wiping down surfaces, wearing a mask, and social distancing.

Be transparent and provide honest information with respect to any suspected or confirmed exposure to the virus and try to agree on what steps you will take to protect your child(ren) from exposure. The courts have provided some guidance in the event of confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis or display of symptoms. If the reporting party has custody at the time, they should maintain custody until the symptoms resolve. If the non-reporting party has custody at the time, they should keep the child(ren) until the other parent has recovered. An exception can be made if parent has work obligation and cannot provide adequate care for the child(ren), in which case the child(ren) should return to the other parent. If there is a temporary pause in your schedule because of diagnosis or displayed symptoms, endeavor to work with each other to maintain a relationship through other means such as Skype, Zoom or Facetime.