In our previous post, we began discussing the topic of the best interests of the child and how family courts make child custody determinations in Pennsylvania. As we noted, Pennsylvania judges have wide discretion in making these decisions and, as in other states, weigh a number of factors in determining what arrangement is best for a child.
The fact that the best interest of the child is the primary concern in child custody proceedings, as well as the fact that judges have significant discretion in making child custody determinations, might initially seem like reasons that having an attorney is not necessary. In fact, though, there are several ways an experienced attorney can help represent parents in child custody proceedings.
For one thing, an experienced attorney can make help ensure that the judge has access to all the information necessary to make the most informed decision possible. The more information a judge has, the better able he or she will be to get a full and complete picture of the parents, the child, and the circumstances surrounding the decision. This is especially important with respect to factors affecting the safety of the child.
An experienced attorney can also help ensure that the judge not only has all the information necessary to make a good decision, but also that the judge has the proper perspective on the various factors. If a judge wants to focus on one or two factors over and above other relevant factors, an attorney can help make a strong case to shift the focus, even if only a bit. This can affect the outcome.
Another good reason to work with an experienced attorney in child custody proceedings is to make sure everything is done properly, that the parent’s due process rights are respected, and that any issues arising after a child custody order is issued are fairly and promptly addressed.