Child Support & Custody

Pennsylvania’s child custody law (23 PA C.S. §§5321 – 40) requires courts to make decisions based on the best interest of the child.

The law provides the court with a list of 16 factors to consider in making its decision. It directs the court to give weighted consideration to anything affecting the safety of the child, including the present and past abuse of each parent and members of the parents’ households. The law also provides strict guidance to any person who wishes to relocate to a new home with the child if that move would take away from the other parent’s ability to see the child.

Failure to follow these guidelines and get the approval of the other parent or the court before moving could have negative consequences for the relocating party.

The court is directed to consider the best interest of the child in making its decision to approve the request for relocation and must give weighted consideration to any fact that affects the safety of the child. While the law makes the safety of the child a priority, it can be a difficult law to understand. For that reason, those involved in custody matters are encouraged to seek the advice of a lawyer or legal clinic so they can understand how the law might apply to their situations.

PA Safe Law now offers free and credible legal information, resources, and referrals, for help navigating a variety of civil legal matters including divorce and custody.

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Child Abuse

The Child Protective Services Law (23 Pa. C.S. §§ 6311 – 6320) requires a person who is a designated mandatory reporter under the law to make a report of suspected child abuse if the person has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a victim of abuse. Employees and volunteers of a domestic violence program are mandated reporters who are required to make such a report, and therefore do not break a victim’s confidentiality by doing so. It is important that victims of domestic violence and domestic violence advocates understand the requirements of this law and what happens if they violate it. PCADV provides training and technical assistance for domestic violence advocates and others on the issue of mandated child abuse reporting.

For more information or training on the requirements for reporting child abuse, please contact PCADV.

Many of our domestic violence programs offer free legal assistance through a Civil Legal Representative.

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