Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws

The Keystone State can be a wonderful place to fall in love. Unfortunately not every love story has a happy ending. If yours didn’t quite work out as planned, you may be wondering which laws will apply to your child custody case. Here is a short summary of child custody laws in Pennsylvania.

Child Custody Laws In Pennsylvania

Determining child custody is one of the most contentious, emotionally difficult aspects of divorce when children are involved. Judges in Pennsylvania (as in other states) must consider a child's own wishes (in addition to each parent) when making a ruling. Pennsylvania’s custody laws adhere to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (PDF) and also allow joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights.

Pennsylvania Child Custody Statutes

State child custody laws can vary depending on your jurisdiction. Some of the basics of Pennsylvania child custody laws are listed below.

Code Section

Tit. 23 §5301

Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted


Joint Custody an Option?

Yes, Tit. 23 §5304 "Shared"

Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized?

Yes, Tit. 23 §§5311, 5303, 5312, 5313

Child's Own Wishes Considered?


Pennsylvania Custody Hearings

A custody hearing will normally occurs in front of a judge who will decide the custody arrangement based on what is in your child’s best interests. Pennsylvania child custody courts must consider any relevant factors while giving more consideration to those factors that will affect your child’s safety. Some of these factors will focus on the parents, like:

  • Which of you is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between your child and the other parent;
  • Which of you is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with your child; and
  • Which of is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of your child.

Other factors focus on your child, like his or her preference, relationships with any siblings, and need for stability and continuity in his or her education, community, and family life. The court can also consider any past or present physical abuse, whether either parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, and certain criminal charges and convictions.

Pennsylvania Family Laws Related Resources:

Child custody matters are never easy, emotionally or legally. You may find speaking to attorney to be helpful. You can contact a Pennsylvania family law attorney in your area to discuss your case. You can also find additional information in FindLaw's Child Custody section.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.