Legal Solutions That Serve The Best Interests Of Your Children

Child custody and visitation can be emotionally charged issues for many divorcing couples. Since custody focuses on the children’s best interests, which are sometimes interpreted differently within the same family, child custody matters must be resolved with the help of skilled family law attorneys.

Our lawyers work with parents (whether divorcing, divorced or never married) to help them arrive at arrangements that everyone can agree on. In custody matters, we constantly remind our clients that a divorce filing ends a marriage, but it does not sever family ties or family relationships. Lifelong parenting responsibilities will remain; parents will always have to meet the needs of their children. In representing family law clients, our firm will encourage mutual respect and open communication utilizing problem-solving approaches to address our clients’ custody issues. To that end, we also offer services in divorce mediation and collaborative law. Contact us for help with your case.

Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Child Custody

How is child custody determined? If parents cannot negotiate an agreement for custody, then a family court judge will determine each parent’s legal and physical custody rights. The family court judge will tell each party where the child or children will live and how much time each parent will have with the child or children. A family court judge must consider such factors as the age of the child, the duties performed by each parent on behalf of the child, the preference of the child, and which parent is more likely to attend to and meet the child’s daily physical, emotional, educational and special needs.

What’s the difference between legal and physical custody? Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about important issues in a minor child’s life such as his or her education and medical care. Physical custody refers to the right of an adult to have a child live with him or her. Both legal and physical custody may be awarded solely to one parent or jointly to both so that they have shared or equal physical custody.

How do I get a modification of custody? A modification is awarded if the parents agree to it or the Pennsylvania Family Court believes that the child’s best interests require a modification of custody or a change in the custody order. If you wish to obtain a custody order modification because you believe your child should spend more time with you or you are moving, our attorneys can assist you.

When can a child make a decision about his or her own custody situation? Until a child turns 18, either the parents or a family court judge will determine the child’s custody. The older the child is, the more weight the family court will give to the child’s wishes as to physical and legal custody. For example, a 15-year-old’s preference as to which parent that child wants to live with will be given more weight than the preferences of a child who is 8.

Can I have custody living under the same roof? If you live in the same home as your spouse or former spouse, you may still be awarded sole or joint physical and/or legal custody of your child. In addition, you can obtain a custody order that states where your child will live when you move out.

Contact A Westmoreland County Child Custody And Child Relocation Attorney

The Greensburg child custody attorneys of Stewart, McArdle, Sorice, Whalen, Farrell, Finoli & Cavanaugh, LLC, can help you understand your rights and options regarding your children. Call us at or toll free at to schedule an appointment.