Legal Custody


One of the most contentious areas in family law litigation involves the rights of parents and children to spend time with each other and to be involved in each other's lives as well as the right/obligation to raise children. Custody rights are divided into two categories under Pennsylvania law. Physical custody is the right to see children to raise them, having them either live with one parent, the other or grandparents.

In rare situations, physical custody could involve third parties such as aunts or uncles. Periods of physical custody range greatly as each family's situation is different. Legal custody is the right to be involved in major decisions involving a child's education, religious upbringing and medical care. If legal custody is shared, both parents have the right to be present at medical appointments, parent-teacher conferences and important religious events, even if the parents are not of the same religion.

Unlike divorce litigation, which often ends with the divorce itself, custody agreement/orders can be reviewed as the most important criteria when it comes to children is their best interests. While judges will often listen to children, children do not always know what is best for them and a judge will, if that judge feels that it is necessary, rule in a fashion that might not be what the child wants but which very well might be in the child's best interests.

Agreements are favored over litigation and parents are encouraged to work out agreements and to flexible within those agreements. Knowing what a judge will look for and what is generally acceptable and what is realistic requires an experienced custody lawyer.

A custody trial is an all encompassing trial that involves the parents, their significant others and could involve grandparents, siblings, etc. Knowing which points to stress and which battles to fight within the custody case requires experience, the kind of experience that Attorney Michael Eisenberg has.


It is every child's right to be financially supported. The amount of support and whether it is to be paid by either parent depends upon the custody arrangement, the incomes of the parents and any unusual expenses that have assumed by the parents. A common expense is parochial school. Childcare expenses are often factored into a child support figure as it is usually necessary for the parents to work and that requires someone to care for the child(ren) during working hours.

Child support, by definition, covers direct and indirect expenses. The parent paying child support does not have the right, under Pennsylvania law, to direct how the child support money is spent. Child support money will help the other parent with rent/mortgage, electricity, food, etc.

There are a number of issues that arise in child support cases. There issues are the earning capacity of a parent who is perhaps earning below his/her level of income and/or experience.
Medical, dental and prescription costs are often shared based upon the percentage of incomes each parent has relative to the total, combined incomes of the parents. It is best to keep careful records of those expenses as the custodial parent, if there is one, must absorb $250.00 per child per year before being entitled to reimbursement from the other spouse for the correct percentage.


parents have right defined under Pennsylvania law to be involved in their children's lives. Many people believe that if the parent with whom the children live will not permit contact then that is it. This is simply not true.

However, if there have been problems, particularly abuse or mental illness, establishing the rights of a parent may take time and might be done with many small steps, rather than a leap to custody. Judges tend to be protective of children and if there is a major problem, judges will often err on the side of caution, rather than place a child at risk. If the rights of a parent have been restricted, particularly without a court order, then it is time to speak with an experienced custody litigation attorney.


In today's world, job relocations, losses of jobs and the need to find work where it is available or falling in love with a person who was met on the internet often requires a move to a town or city far from where a parent lives. Obtaining permission from a judge to move with a child to a far away town, even if it is in Pennsylvania, or to another state, requires a special motion to be filed as well as certain elements to be proven at the time of trial.

If one of those elements is not proven and if the relocation is not proven to be in the best interests of the child, that move could be prohibited by a judge and a change of primary physical custody could occur. This is why it is very important to have an attorney who has tried relocation cases and who knows how the case should run as well as how to deal with weaknesses in the case as well as strengths.

Is the relocation due to a change in employment? Is the relocation due to relationship and long has that relationship existed and in what status? Is there a new marriage or is this a new fling? Have schools and physicians been selected? If a child has educational issues, will those be addressed at the new school? How far away is the new home to be? What is proposed for custodial time for the parent who is not moving? These are a few of the questions that need to be asked and answered whether a parent is seeking to relocate with children or whether a parent is seeking to block a relocation.


Pennsylvania law provides for Grandparent rights in certain circumstances. There are circumstances where grandparents can petition the court for custody rights if the parents of the children who are the subjects of a custody case cannot or are not properly raising the children.

Those kinds of cases depend entirely on the facts of each case. If children have lived with their grandparents for a year or more, then the grandparents have rights to custody and those rights can range from visitation on occasion to primary physical custody. If one parent has died or the parents are not together and there has been a relationship with the child(ren) and grandparents, then rights may also be available. In order to pursue grandparent rights, the grandparent would file a custody action and proceed to court. If a grandparent and parent or parents agree, then an agreed order may be filed after the custody action has been initiated.

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Michael E. Eisenberg Law Practice 2935 Byberry Road, Hatboro, PA 19040 (267) 722-8383

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