Our Family Law Attorneys located in Easton, Allentown & Bethlehem take Child Custody Cases to Trial in Northampton, Lehigh & Monroe Counties.
The Child Custody Attorneys in our Easton Family Law Office handle cases throughout the Lehigh Valley. Our Family Law Attorneys have successfully represented Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents and even Aunts and Uncles in child custody trials. We have broken new legal ground in both Northampton and Lehigh Counties through our success representation of Grandparents and Aunts & Uncles in Child Custody cases. In addition to our groundbreaking representation of non-parents in custody cases, we were also the first Lehigh Valley Child Custody Attorneys to successfully have the Northampton County District Attorney criminally charge a parent with kidnapping for violating their own child custody order.
Our Easton family attorneys understand that even parents who are happily married have different views when it comes to raising their children. For parents who are divorced or who do not live together, disputes over the best interests of the child are magnified. Whether, divorcing, divorced or never married, our Lehigh Valley Child Custody Lawyers can help.
Our child custody lawyers are sensitive to the difficulties of co-parenting. Our family lawyers handle a variety of matters, but we know that few legal issues are more important or more emotionally charged than child custody. Whether the likely outcome of your case will be co-parent counseling, trial or both, our Lehigh Valley family lawyers work hard to truly understand your concerns and to achieve a favorable outcome, in and out of court.
All child custody matters in Lehigh County & Northampton County start with the filing of a child custody complaint or petition. An original action, in a case where the parties have never previously been to court, starts with the filing of a child custody complaint. In a case where a custody order already exists, the party seeking judicial intervention will file either a Petition to Modify Child Custody if they disagree with the current custody schedule or circumstances or a Contempt of Child Custody Order Petition if the other party is not abiding by the current child custody order.
A child custody conference is the first court appearance in a child custody case. The conference is presided over by a Child Custody Master or Hearing Officer, a neutral, court appointed, lawyer. The goal of a child custody conference is to reach an agreement without taking testimony.
The children and third-party witnesses are typically not permitted at a custody conference.
The Master or Hearing Officer will summarize the disputes between the parties and submit a report to the Judge who will eventually preside over a trial if no agreement is reached.
A pre-trial conference is held in front of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas. A pre-trial conference is a second attempt by the Court to broker an agreement between the parties in a child custody case.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the Judge will address legal issues that may arise during trial as well as scheduling matters.
A trial is the first and only opportunity for each side to call witnesses and present formal evidence to the Court in a family law case. A child custody trial may be a multi-day event and requires a significant amount of preparation by the parents and their attorneys.
Other hearings that may occur in a child custody case may include Relocation Hearings, Contempt Hearings, Intervention Hearings and Emergency or Special Relief Hearings.
Client, through a devastating accident, emotional poisoning of her son by paternal grandparents and the poor representation by previous attorneys, had lost all custody rights to her child. After a week long trial, client was awarded sole custody of her son after years with barely any contact.
Client, a service member, sought custody of his son and daughter after having only summer visitations. After a week long trial, Client was granted primary custody of his son and leave to relocate to Germany per his military service.
Northampton County Children & Youth Services had taken custody of our client’s grandchildren and refused to release the children to her. In a first of its kind case, we sued Northampton County Children and youth and obtained sole custody for our client
Client/Mother had primary custody of children and sought to relocate for better employment opportunities and reduced cost of living. Father contested the relocation but relocation was eventually granted after a trial.
In another case, NorCo CYS had taken custody of our client’s grandchildren and refused to release the children to her. We successfully sued Northampton County Children & Youth for child custody and were granted sole custody by the court.
Childrens’ mother thwarted Client’s attempts to reunify with his two daughters at every turn. Through progressive litigation, we were able to obtain a child custody order granting Client 50/50 custody. The children’s mother refused to abide by the order and was eventually incarcerated for interefering with a child custody order. Father, our client, was granted sole custody.
Children & Youth Services of Northampton County took custody of our client’s grandchildren and refused to release the children to him. We successfully sued Northampton County CYS for child custody and were granted sole custody by the court.
Every child custody case is unique. Our experienced child custody & family law attorneys will sit down with you and discuss your custody case and your goals. Goals in child custody cases are as varied as the individuals involved. Our Child Custody Lawyers will empower you to make informed decisions that address your immediate concerns while safeguarding your long-term interests.
Our Child Custody Attorneys strive to strike a deal in negotiations to achieve a fair and practical settlement, and to reduce our clients’ legal expenses when possible. Since all child custody case must first go through a custody conference where settlement is the goal, it only make sense to achieve a fair compromise if possible. However, sometimes litigation cannot be avoided. If litigation is necessary, our child custody attorneys are ready to fight for you.
Despite the best efforts at settlement by our Child Custody Lawyers, some Lehigh Valley cases must still proceed to a custody trial. Our Family Law Attorneys prepare our Child Custody clients by reviewing the facts and likely testimony and putting them in the best situation to succeed at a custody trial. We will compile custody calendars with our clients, review evidence and put on the best possible child custody case. We have successfully achieved our clients’ goals in the most difficult of situations at custody trials.
Our Family Law Attorneys are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for our child custody clients and will not accept failure when any possibility of success exists. Child Custody Attorneys at our Easton Family Law Office have changed the landscape of child custody case in Northampton and Lehigh County to achieve our clients’ goals.
In Northampton County, Lehigh County and in Pennsylvania in General, the Court is required to look at a number of factors to determine which parent or party should have custody and how much time with the child each parent should have. These custody factors include:
1. Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party?
2. Is there present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household?
3. What are the parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child?
4. What is the need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life?
5. What is the availability of extended family?
6. What are the child’s sibling relationships?
7. What is the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment?
8. Have there been attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent?
9. Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child that is adequate for the child’s emotional needs?
10. Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child?
11. What is the proximity of the parties’ residences?
12. What is the availability of each party to care for the child or their ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements?
13. What is the level of conflict between the parties and which party is responsible for the conflicts?
14. What is the history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household?
15. What is the mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household?
16. Any other relevant factors that should be considered
In the Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania in general, there are two different types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the ability to make determinations regarding the child’s education, health and religious upbringing amongst other things. Physical custody refers to the quantity and quality of time each person is awarded with the child
The common types of Legal Custody are as follows:
• Shared Legal Custody – Both parents must consult with each other to make determinations regarding the child’s education, health and other activities.
• Sole Legal Custody – One parent is given sole discretion to make decisions regarding the child’s education, health & well-being.
The common types of Physical Custody are as follows:
• Shared Physical Custody – Both parties will have roughly equal periods of time with the child(ren).
• Primary Physical Custody – One parent will exercise the majority of actual custody of the child while the other parent may have every other weekend and/or longer periods of custody in the summer.
Contact our Easton Family Law Attorneys to learn more.
In Northampton County the Court will often order co-parent counseling in contested custody cases. The purpose of the co-parent counseling is two-fold.
The custody court often hopes that the counseling will lead to better relationships between the parent and eventually they will be able to co-parent without Court intervention. On the other hand, if the party are unable to resolve their differences the co-parent counselor will be called to testify at trial and guide the Court in its custody determination.
This often makes the co-parent counselor the most important witness at trial and establishing a good relationship with the counselor an imperative for litigants.
Contact our Easton Child Custody Attorneys to learn more.
Succeeding in Co-Parent Counseling can be of the utmost importance to your Easton child custody case. Always make sure to do the following:
1. Make a great first impression.
2. Show an effort to avoid litigation.
3. Be reasonable with the other parent.
4. Show the counselor that you have your child’s best interests at heart.
5. Never allow yourself to belittle or berate the other parent in front of the counselor.
Contact our Pennsylvania Child Custody Lawyers in Easton to learn more.
1. Court monitored communication mediums
2. Home Studies
3. Reunification Counseling
4. Urine Screening
5. Supervised Visitation
6. Psychological Evaluations
Contact our Family Law Attorneys in Easton, Pennsylvnia to learn more
Filing for child custody in Northampton or Lehigh County requires a formal complaint be filed with the family court. In addition to the legal language the complaint must now contain a criminal background check form and a parenting plan.
The initial complaint comes with a filing fee of approximately $150, depending on the county. Afterwards, additional filings are usually free of a filing fee.
Contact our Easton Custody Attorneys to learn more.
Ideally, no. But one way or another, things are not ideal if a party is resorting to the court system. If the other party hires a top custody attorney in the Lehigh Valley and you go without an attorney you may find yourself at a serious disadvantage.
If there is a current order in place you will often need the court’s permission to move. If there is no order in place the courts are currently split on whether or not permission is needed. Either way, if considering a move, it is best to speak with a child custody attorney in Easton, Pennsylvania first.
The court can appoint a guardian ad litem, GAL, for a child and it can appoint an attorney for the child. The GAL is an attorney who’s purpose is to advocate for the child’s best interest but not for the child’s wishes. An attorney for the child advocates for the child’s wishes even if they are not in the child’s best interest. It may sound odd that these could be two different things but it happens frequently.
Contact our Easton Family Law Attorneys to learn more.
Generally speaking, Yes, you must still send the child to the other parent if the custody order requires it. However, the fact that the child does not want to visit their parent should be quite concerning and a petition to modify custody is likely recommended.
Call the Family Lawyers in our Northampton County Child Custody Office to learn more.
Yes and No. Having full custody makes it more likely that you will be able to change your child’s name after the appropriate legal steps are followed. However, you must still follow the name change procedure to do so. If you are interested in changing your child’s name, contact one of our Child Custody Attorneys in Easton, Pennsylvania.