West Chester, PA | Shared Child Custody Lawyer | Joint Custody Attorney
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Lee Ciccarelli

Lee Ciccarelli

Lee Ciccarelli is the founder and managing partner of Ciccarelli Law Offices with over two decades experience as a practicing attorney.

Office Locations
Primary Location
A
304 North High Street West Chester, PA 19380
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Secondary Locations

These locations are available by appointment only

B
1515 Market St., #200 Philadelphia, PA 19102
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C
135 East State St. Kennett Square, PA 19380
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D
600 West Germantown Pike Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
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E
1489 Baltimore Pike Ste 221 Springfield, PA 19064
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G
101 Lindenwood Dr, Ste 225 Malvern, PA 19355
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H
150 N. Radnor Chester Rd Ste. F200, Radnor, PA 19087
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I
313 West Liberty St., Ste 341 Lancaster, PA 17603
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Shared Child Custody

This can be a stressful and divisive issue when it comes to family law. While parents or guardians generally have rights to their child, a Pennsylvania court's first priority is always the well-being of the child or children. Striking a legal compromise between the child's best interests and the parents' or guardians' rights is tricky and complicated.

In the past, courts have been reluctant to grant shared physical custody out of concern to providing a constant, regular home in the best interest of minor children. Shared legal custody is also a complicated issue, involving decisions such as medication and power of attorney. Previously, sole custody with visitation has been used as an often-inadequate remedy.

It is possible to provide a stable environment with equally or partially-shared custody with regard to how modern families function – with multiple persons working outside the home. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you sort through these issues to come to a balanced solution for your family.

West Chester Shared Child Custody Attorney

If you are exploring your legal options, contact the compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices. We understand the delicate balance involved in child custody proceedings and will work with you to pursue the most favorable option for you and your family.

We are proud to serve Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County, and surrounding areas. For your free consultation on what our West Chester family lawyers can do for your unique situation, call (877) 529-2422 today.


Pennsylvania Shared Custody Information Center


Understanding Legal and Physical Custody

Shared or joint custody can mean one of three things for a parent or guardian in Pennsylvania: shared physical custody, shared legal custody, or shared physical and legal custody. These types of custody are defined by 23 Pa. C.S. § 5302.

Physical custody is simply the actual physical possession and control of the child. Legal custody is the right to make major decisions that affect the best interest of the child, such as medical, religious, and educational decisions.

In emergencies, the parent or guardian with physical rights in a shared custody situation has control over any emergency medical decisions, provided that the other custodian is notified as soon as possible. Generally, in a shared custody situation, both parents have legal custody. This includes agreements where physical custody is not shared.


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Definition of and Factors Determining Shared Custody

According to 23 Pa. C.S. § 5302, shared custody is an order awarding joint legal rights, shared rights, or both in such a way that the child has frequent, continuing contact and physical access to both parents.

Shared custody is different from a parent or guardian's right to visitation, which is merely the right to visit the child and not take physical custody of the child. In true shared arrangements, parents have equal joint legal and physical custody of the child. Modern implications, however, may allow for a different interpretation depending on the case.

Under 23 Pa. C.S. § 5301, this process is allowed when it is in the best interest of the child to permit reasonable and continuing contact with both parents and shared child rearing responsibilities after a separation or dissolution of a marriage.

Factors that the court can and may use to determine what is in the best interest of the child include the following:

  • The child's preference – the weight of this factor usually depends on the age of the child
  • Criminal convictions of the parent or guardian
  • Criminal convictions of other members of the parent or guardian's household
  • Past abuse or violent conduct of the parent or guardian, or other members of their household
  • Existing division of childcare responsibilities
  • Ability and willingness of parties to co-parent
  • Distance between the two households, especially with consideration to school districts
  • Time child spends in daycare
  • Work schedules of the parents or guardians
  • Any special needs of the child

It is important to make your case clear to the court and lay down clear-cut boundaries. This can be a complicated process, especially when Pennsylvania child support is brought into the picture. An experienced family law attorney can help you lay out a detailed case for the court and help you find a peaceful resolution.


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Pursuing Joint Child Custody in Pennsylvania With a Qualified Lawyer

If you are in West Chester, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, Radnor, or the surrounding areas, and are seeking shared responsibility of your child, contact Ciccarelli Law Offices. Our family law attorneys are passionate about helping you reached the balanced agreement that's right for your and yours. For your free initial consultation call (877) 529-2422 today.