My Child is Failing School and Doesn’t Live with My Ex – Can I Get Custody?

Question:jana palko attorney pennsylvania

Can I get custody of my child if I am paying child support and the child is failing school and not living with the mother any longer?


Please note that I am licensed in Pennsylvania only and cannot offer legal advice in or speak to the laws/practices in any location other than that state.

In Pennsylvania, the court has the ability and the obligation to consider many factors in determining custody.  The factors to be considered by the court there would include the following:

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

The present and past abuse committed by a party or a member of the party’s household, whether this is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child

The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child

The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life

The availability of extended family

The child’s relationships with any siblings

The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment

Besides the factors listed above, the court usually also considers any attempts of the parent to turn the child against another parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary. The court may also consider which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable and consistent relationship with the child to meet the child’s emotional needs.

Daily physical, emotional, education and developmental needs of the child are certainly taken into account as well as the proximity of residences of the parties, each party’s availability to care for the child, the level of conflict between parties and willingness or unwillingness to cooperate with each other, any history of drug or alcohol abuse and the mental and physical well-being of the parties involved.

Any factors that are relevant to the case are carefully considered.

Per the above factors, the fact that a child is not doing well in school is important. If this can be attributed to the opposing side or the party having custody, it would be a consideration of the court.

An important issue I can see in what you have described would be that a third party may have rights to your child if that third party has been acting as a parent, and in fact has custody of the child, for a certain period of time.  As such, it may be that you would have to file suit against that third person as well as the child’s mother in order to get relief from the court regarding custody.  You would need to consult an attorney licensed in your area to determine this, but I think it is important to mention.

In my state, the fact that a parent pays or does not pay child support has no real bearing upon the custody matter.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult a domestic litigation attorney in your area 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 Jana Palko, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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