Custody Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


When can my child decide where she wants to live?

In Pennsylvania, there is no age at which a child can decide where to live; the decision is up to the judge (or the parents, if they can agree).  However, one of the factors that a judge will consider in deciding a custody case is the preference of a child.  The older and more mature the child is, the more weight the judge will afford the child’s preference. 

Can I decide what activities to register my kids since I have primary custody?

Assuming you and the other party share legal custody, the decisions for extracurricular activities and other such decisions should be joint decisions, made after consultation with the other party.  Typically, the only way one parent can unilaterally make these decisions is if that parent has sole legal custody, which is unusual.

Does the person who files for custody first get an advantage?

No.  Regardless of who files the custody action, the process and procedure is the same.  Both parties are afforded the opportunity to be heard before any custody order is entered. 

Are mothers given a preference in custody actions?

No.  In Pennsylvania, there is no preference afforded to either parent.  Rather, the law requires that all of the factors outlined in the statute be considered and weighed to determine what is ultimately in the best interest of the child.

Do I have to pay child support if I’m not seeing the child/the other parent is not letting me see the child?

Yes.  Child support and custody are dealt with separately. The obligation to pay child support exists separate from the right to see the child.   This also means that a parent can see their child even if they are behind or delinquent on their child support payments.

Do grandparents have custody rights?

Yes; however, grandparent or third party rights can be complex.  If you are a grandparent or any third party (non-parent) who is seeking any type of custody of a child, you should contact an attorney.

When can I modify my custody order?

You can file a petition to modify a custody order any time.  Typically, changes in custody orders will occur if there is a change in circumstances or the parties agree to a change. 


Note: These are all general answers and your case may be different.  In almost every case, there are specifics of a situation that will complicate the result in a custody action.  Custody situations are incredibly personal and individual.  It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney guide you through this process and to answer all of your custody questions.   Contact The Law Office of Angela Flouras Rieck for your questions about custody in Lancaster County, PA.