Family Law

Our Attorneys at Avolio Law Group assist clients in Greensburg and Westmoreland County with all aspects of their divorce and family law challenges in a supportive environment. We will offer practical guidance and easy-to-understand advice while searching for solutions that fit your needs and your budget. Nothing is more important to our team than upholding your rights and best interests throughout the legal process. You can trust that we will take the time to address your concerns and work with you to develop a solution that works for you and your family — both immediately, and long term. Our lawyers are prepared to work diligently and meticulously to achieve the best possible results for you.

In the area of family law litigation, our attorneys are exceptionally skilled in dealing with a variety of matters including:

  • Divorce

  • Custody

  • Property Valuation and Division

  • Alimony

  • Child Support

  • Guardianships

  • Name Changes

Avolio Law Group - Family Law Decisions

Child Custody Factors

There are many elements that are considered and closely weighed when it comes to determining child custody. Overall, the Court will want to know as much information about the family as possible and the Court will ultimately make the decision based on what it believes is in the best interest of the child. In Pennsylvania, the Court must consider sixteen (16) factors when deciding a child custody case. 

The sixteen (16) factors considered in Pennsylvania are as follows:

Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party? 

The Court wants to know that the custodial parent will foster a positive relationship with the other parent. 

Is there present and past abuse* committed by a party or member of the party’s household? Is there a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party? Which party can better provide adequate safeguards and supervision of the child? (*Abuse as defined in Section 6102 of the Protection From Abuse Act). 

It’s of the highest importance that children live in a safe and healthy environment. Any record of abuse will be carefully weighed.

What are the parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child? 

The court will explore the roles that the parents have played in the life of their children. However, just because a parent hasn’t performed certain parental duties in the past doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of doing so in the future.

What is the need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life? 

It may be preferred to keep a child living in their current home or neighborhood so that they remain near things familiar. 

What is the availability of extended family? 

Being a single parent is challenging. If a parent has the assistance of extended family nearby, this could be a positive factor.

What are the child’s sibling relationships? 

This will consider both blood relation as well as their emotional relationship to their siblings. It’s preferred to keep siblings together, if at all possible.

What is the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment? 

While children don’t have the ultimate decision, their opinion still matters and will be taken into account. The Court will consider older children’s preferences more seriously than younger children.

Are there (or have there been) attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm? 

Alienation of the children’s affections for the other parent is always a concern of the court.

Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child that is adequate for the child’s emotional needs? 

The court will consider the past relationship between the parent and children in evaluating this factor.

Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child? 

Raising a child comes with a lot of responsibility; therefore, it’s vital the parent with custody is deemed responsible in these areas.

What is the proximity of the parties’ residences? 

Based upon how near or far each parent lives to one another, this could impact the custody arrangement or frequency of visitation.

What is the availability of each party to care for the child or their ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements? 

For parents who work, it’s important that they can provide proper care for their child when they cannot be with them.

What is the level of conflict between the parties? Is there a willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another, keeping in mind that a party’s effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party? 

Shared custody is far more challenging — and may not be possible — if the two parties have a great deal of conflict or refuse to work together.

What is the history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household? 

Any type of substance abuse is a cause for concern if a child would be residing with that parent.

What is the mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household? 

For the safety of the child, parents must be physically and mentally capable of caring for and nurturing the child.

What are any other relevant factors that should be considered? 

This is a catch-call category for anything else that could impact the health, safety, and emotional wellness of a child. Courts will work to uncover anything that could impact their decision.

It is important to remember that the Court is deciding what arrangement is in the best interest of the child or children involved and that arrangement may not be what is most convenient for the parents. The Court will learn about your family situation through a day or two of testimony and make a decision that will impact your family for the rest of your lives. You are in the best position to make decisions for your family; therefore, you should talk to your attorney if there is any possibility to work out an arrangement before going to trial.  If not, it is best to seriously consider the answers to the above listed factors so the Court can make the decision that is best for your child. If possible, always consult with an attorney when making custody arrangements or attending a custody trial.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Family Law Issue?

If you have encountered any issue related to family law, contact us today. An experienced family law attorney can provide guidance on your case, answer any questions you may have, and represent your best interests in court.