How is child custody typically determined when a couple with a newborn decides to divorce?
While I am not licensed to practice law in your state and cannot give you legal advice, I can give some general observations on this issue based on the jurisdiction where I practice.
Where I practice in Pennsylvania, the parties are able to come to the terms of a custody agreement on their own, without intervention of the court. Therefore, if the father is able to still work with the mother and put down into an agreement the terms for custody, you do not need to have a hearing or trial on custody.
Usually, these mutual agreements are drafted and reviewed by attorneys and then later entered as an order of the court so as to protect the interests of the parties and the terms they negotiated for. It is possible to have these mutual agreements contain terms that provide each parent equal time with the child.
If, however, there is disagreement to potential custody terms, a petition for custody may need to be filed so the court can determine the parties’ respective rights. A custody determination must be made based on the best interests of the children.
Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, Section 5328, sets forth several factors the court must consider in doing a “best interests analysis,” with weighted consideration to be given to the factors that pertain to the safety of the child.
Age of the child may come into play if the court begins to look at who is better equipped to care for an infant. Unfortunately, there are no guidelines or formulas used to determine if the parties will ultimately be awarded 50/50 visitation time by the court—each case and its facts need to be weighed by the court.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your jurisdiction to obtain specific advice as to the laws in your state and how they impact your potential case.
To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pennsylvania divorce lawyer William J. Phelan, IV, contact Cordell & Cordell.