A Master is an attorney who presides over certain cases – such as custody hearings – in order to lighten the Judge's docket. The Master can set up an original custody schedule and can modify said schedule as needed. There are specific types of cases that only Judges can hear, however, such as Contempt of Custody, change of Primary Custody, and Appeals of a Master's Order. Please note that if both parties sign an agreement before the Master or sign the Master's Order, they waive their right to appeal. Only an unsigned Order can be appealed to a Judge.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions regarding the welfare of the child. Physical custody refers to where the child lives or stays. A parent may have both types of custody, only one or the other, or neither.
Whenever possible, PA courts prefer for parents to share legal and physical custody equally. And while there are certain factors that may skew custody one way or another, the Courts are reluctant to completely remove a parent's legal or physical custody of a child unless it can be proven that that parent poses some kind of danger to the child.
Master of the Court
As loving and caring parents, you always have the best interests of your children at heart. Custody litigation can be a physically and emotionally challenging experience for you and your loved ones, but we at Jordan Reilly and Associates are here to lighten your load. With our legal expertise and courtroom tenacity, we have what it takes to keep you and your children together. Here are certain key points to keep in mind if custody litigation poses a problem for you.
In cases where the Court grants custody to a parent who has not been permitted to see his or her child for an extended period, the Court will frequently choose a "stepped-up" approach in which custody is gradually increased over time. This allows for the child to slowly acclimate to the new arrangements, and for the parent to demonstrate parental fitness under regulated conditions.
Custody: Legal vs. Physical
The best and worst thing about Custody Court is that a Custody Order is never truly final and can be changed as many times as needed to fit the changing needs of the parents and children involved. Consequently, Custody battles are rarely ever resolved in one court hearing. Even with good inter-parental communication, separated parents will often return to Court numerous times to adjust custody schedules as time goes by.
In cases where the Court finds reason to be concerned with a parent's fitness, one or both of you may be required to complete certain prerequisites before receiving expanded custody rights, such as co-parenting classes, psychological evaluations, drug tests, and anger management classes. Even baseless accusations from the other party may cause the Court to ask you to be evaulated. Remember that this is not necessarily a reflection on you, but merely an excess of caution on the Court's side. The cost of these tests can be split between the parties or placed on either of the two parties.
Matters regarding custody in PA are determined based on the best interests of the child. The personal objectives of the parents come second to the needs of the child. The standard of best interests is far reaching, including everything from school, to extended family and housing. This does not mean, however, that the more financially secure parent is entitled to more custody - as long as the child is safe, cared for, and happy in the home, money should not be an issue.
Interests of the Child
Preparing for Custody Litigation