Pennsylvania follows the principle of the best interests of the child when it comes to child custody. It is presumed that close contact with both parents is good for the child, so shared custody is encouraged by the court.
Parents may share both physical and legal custody, meaning that even if one parent has primary physical custody, the parties still may share legal custody (the right to make decisions about the child's life). Sole custody is the award of both physical and legal custody of the child to one parent, and now, it is rarely granted in Pennsylvania.
When deciding child custody, the court considers several factors including the health condition of all parties, the child’s attachment to the familiar school, home, and community, each parent’s ability to maintain the child’s well-being and development, and each parent’s ability to encourage the contact of a child with the other parent.
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