Harrisburg Child Custody & Visitation Agreement Lawyers

Initial Custody and Later Modifications

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Family Law Attorneys

No matter how child custody and visitation shakes out, you will have an ongoing relationship with your ex in raising your children. At Caldwell & Kearns, we strive for workable parenting agreements that serve the best interests of the child and keep both parents actively involved.

We represent clients in out-of-court negotiations or contested custody proceedings, in pre- and post-divorce custody disputes over visitation or relocation, or in custody battles where there is no marriage involved. Our Harrisburg family law practice serves mothers or fathers in Dauphin County and surrounding counties of central Pennsylvania. Arrange a consultation at 717-743-1682.

Determination of Custody and Visitation

The courts believe that the healthiest environment is one in which both parents share in raising the child. In most cases, you will share legal custody — both parents are involved in decisions about health care, education and upbringing. But one parent may have primary physical custody and the other may have partial custody or visitation.

  • Contested custody — Litigation is sometimes unavoidable. We sit down with clients to explain and guide you through the court process, discuss the likely outcome (and the adverse effects) of a child custody dispute, and advise clients on the do's and don'ts to put them in the best position in the eyes of the court. For example, bad-mouthing your ex can backfire — the court looks for a home that fosters a healthy attitude toward the other parent.
  • Negotiated custody — We guide clients to a reasonable arrangement that spells out the specifics and aims for an environment of respect and cooperation. Shared custody (shared time) is one option, but may not always in the best interests of the child. If you will be the non-custodial parent, we work to ensure you get regular contact and a favorable arrangement for weekends, holidays and vacations.

Child Custody Modifications

The custody order can be revisited when there is a substantial life change:

  • The custodial parent wishes to relocate beyond Harrisburg or out of state
  • An older child expresses a wish to live with the other parent
  • A parent remarries and the child doesn't fit in with the new family
  • A parent cannot care for the child because of health, emotional or financial problems
  • Sole custody petitions — Sole custody is not about "better parenting skills" — it is granted only if the other parent is judged by the court to be unfit, whether because of child abuse, substance use, domestic violence or other danger to the child.

If the custody arrangement is a mutual decision, we can help draft the details and present it to the court for approval, including any changes in child support. If the matter is disputed, we will fight for you and the best interests of your child in a modification hearing.

Emotions can get in the way of reason in child custody matters. Our skilled and compassionate lawyers can help you see the solutions. Contact our Harrisburg office to arrange a consultation.