Whether you are divorcing or there is another situation requiring the court to consider custody of your minor child, the court will always base its ruling on what is best for the child. According to the Pennsylvania Code, the court commits to hearing and finalizing custody cases in a prompt and swift manner.
The court always considers the stability of the home, financial ability to care for the child and the relationship you may have with the child when deciding custody matters. It wants to see that you can take good care of your child and offer him or her security and a healthy home. It will also look at factors that affect your legal rights to custody of a child.
The court will insist on verifying and reviewing your criminal records and the records of anyone wishing to gain custody of a child. It looks for any history of abuse or violence. If other adults live in the home where the child may reside, they also must submit to a criminal record review by the court. Issues that could raise red flags and affect custody orders include any history of violence, driving while under the influence convictions, drug offenses and sex crimes.
If there is no legal order of paternity, then one must occur before a court will hear a custody case. If you are the father of a child who was born when you were not married to his or her mother, then you must solidify legal paternity through genetic testing or voluntary agreement that you are the father. Without legal paternity, you have no rights to the child and the mother will have automatic custody.