Custody Law


Most parents will tell you that their children are the most important part of their lives. This makes it incredibly painful and scary for people when their custodial rights to their children are put at risk by custody litigation. At Stoner and Davé PLLC our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of custody law, we work with our clients to represent their interests, fight for their rights and give them the peace of mind knowing that their relationship with their children will be protected to the fullest extend which the law allows.

Pennsylvania Law recognizes two forms of custodial rights: Legal and Physical

Legal Custody


Legal custody is the right of an individual to make important decisions in a child’s life. Rights such as having a say in the child’s medical decisions, education and extracurricular activities are all encompassed under legal custody of a child. Normally the law assumes that legal custody is to be split equally between the parents. It is very difficult to overcome this standard as legal custody is only taken away from a parent in the event of extraordinary circumstances which make a parent unfit to have the power of making such decisions.

Yet, despite the fact that legal custodial rights are very strong in Pennsylvania, many people mistakenly attempt to take away legal custodial rights in the event of litigation. The good news is that parents who try to claim full legal custody over a child rarely succeed, and competent representation can help ensure that your rights to legal custody are preserved.

It is important to understand that legal custody is entirely separate from physical custody, and parents who do not have full physical custody can and should retain their legal custodial rights to have a say in their children’s lives. Just because you do not have full physical custody over a child does not mean that you do not lose the right to have equal decision making power in the child’s life.

If you are currently going through custody litigation it is important that you retain your legal custodial rights. The rights to legal custody are very strong in Pennsylvania, however it is up to you to make sure that these rights are defended and protected. With competent representation legal custodial rights can be protected in most instances. The attorneys at Stoner and Davé PLLC are experienced in representing parents in actions regarding legal custody. Call us today at 412-515-0939 for a consultation and to see how our attorneys can fight for your right to have a say in your child’s life.

Physical Custody


Pennsylvania Law contains an assumption regarding custody that natural parents possess equally shared custody unless otherwise agreed upon between the parents or unless it can be shown that it is in the best interest of the children to have an arrangement other than equally shared custody. Generally equally shared custody is the best way to ensure that a child will grow up in a healthy environment with the presence of both parents.

Sometimes however it is in the best interest of a child to have physical custody primarily instilled in one parent over the other. Common reasons for this are differences in location and behavioral issues regarding one of the parents which call into question their ability to care for a child.

When parents live far apart equally shared custody may be impractical for several reasons. One of the most obvious reasons for that of schooling. When parents live in different school districts equally shared physical custody may be an impossibility as a child can only remain enrolled in one school at any given time. However, if the parents still live close to each other and one of the parents is willing to provide travel to school equally shared custody may still be possible.

Sometimes parents may live so far apart however that equally shared physical custody would be impossible to accomplish in light of the child’s educational and social needs. If you find yourself in such a situation it is important to fight for your rights as well as your child’s interest in establishing primary physical custody.
Another common reason why primary physical custody is granted to one parent is that one of the parent has significant behavioral issues which call into question that parent’s ability to properly care for the child. Drug and alcohol abuse as well as other mental health issues make up a large portion of these instances. When a parent is suffering from substance abuse or other mental health issues it is important that they take care of themselves and obtain the proper treatment so that they can properly care for their children. Many people suffer from substance abuse and mental health issues, however many people are also able to overcome these problems with treatment and get better with time. Courts recognize that people have the ability to change, and parents with even the worst substance and mental health issues have been able to regain equally shared custody by showing that they have properly treated these issues and are able to care for their children.

Another common behavioral issue found in custody cases can be attributed to simple immaturity in one or both of the parents. It is a fact that in this day and age many people become pregnant and have children before they are ready. We have even seen this play out in reality tv shows documenting the subject. Most teenagers and young adults simply don’t have the requisite maturity to care for a child on their own and require significant assistance from family and friends.

The Courts understand that sometimes many young people simply need time to grow up themselves in order to be in a position where they can undertake the full responsibilities of a parent. It is important for parents to protect their custodial interests so that they can be on track to exercise custody of their children when they are ready.

While there are other reasons why physical custody may not be equally shared, the predominate reasons tend to be locational difference between the parents as well as behavioral concerns of one of the parents. When these problems present themselves they are always difficult to deal with, however it is important to remember that the main measuring stick used by Courts in custody situations is to determine what would be in the best interest of the child. It is exceedingly rare that the best interest of the child is served by excluding one parent from the child’s life, and with proper representation most parents are able to protect their rights in regards to their children and create a situation where they can play a positive influence in their children’s lives. If your custody rights are under attack it is incredibly important that you stand strong and vigorously protect your relationship with your children.

Call us today at 412-515-0939 to schedule a consultation to see how the attorneys at Stoner and Davé PLLC can help protect your rights in regards to your children.