Have a custody issue? Are you eligible for child support? If you need legal representation for a family law dispute in the Reading, Pennsylvania area, we may be able to help.

Why a Custody Lawyer is Essential to Your Case

Your child is one of the most important things in your life. Custody proceedings can quickly go from civil to hostile very quickly, especially if two parents argue over who gets custody of their children. Because the stakes can be so high, having an experienced lawyer by your side can help the situation. A custody lawyer will be able to mitigate your interests and ensure that your spouse won’t try to unlawfully take your child from you.
At Dutko Law, we understand that this can be a troubling and stressful time. Your children are a significant part of your life. Let us represent you in one of the most important court proceedings you are likely to go through.


Gaining custody of minor children is a matter that both parties feel strongly about. Through we already know that this is an emotion-fueled court process, how does the court determine a custody arrangement? The law in Pennsylvania looks at what is in the “best interest of the child.” Courts look at many factors to determine the best interest standard. For instance, the state takes into consideration which parent is more likely to encourage visitation rights to another parent. And, which parent has completed the duty of a parent, such as care and support. Both items of “care and support” would mean general care, such as providing food, shelter, and healthcare, but could also extend to mean an encouragement of their education and participation in extra activities.

The following are other factors the state takes into consideration:

(1) The availability of extended family.

(2) The child’s sibling relationships.

(3) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment.

(4) The proximity of the residences of the parties.

(5) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.


The present and past abuse committed by a parent could significantly affect your ability to gain custody of your child. The state of Pennsylvania takes any abuse of a child very seriously, which means if you or another party are found guilty of physical abuse of the child, you or that party could lose custody.

The state also takes into account the following for child custody:

(1) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household.

(2) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household.

(3) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.

(4) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party’s effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.

(5) Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements.


There are two types of custody; legal and physical. Legal custody is often shared between two parties. Legal custody is defined as “the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions.” See Pa.C.S. 23 Section 5322. Physical custody can be either one of the following:

(1) sole

(2) primary

(3) share

Sole physical custody provides one the right to exclusive physical custody of the child.
Primary physical custody gives one the right to physical custody for of a majority of the time.
Shared physical custody awards custody to more than one individual for a significant period of time.


A custody order can be modified by petitioning the court. The court will again review to determine the best interest of the child. Although a change in circumstance is not required to file a Petition to Modify, the court is unlikely to modify an existing order without a change in circumstance.


As a general rule, no party shall relocate, unless (1) every individual who has custody rights to the child consents to the proposed relocation; or (2) the court approves the proposed relocation.


Pennsylvania determines child support obligations by calculating the disparity in the parties’ incomes. Click here to be taken to the Pennsylvania Child Support estimator. If a child spends at least 40 percent of nights with the non-custodial party, there is a rebuttable presumption that the non-custodial party is entitled to a reduction in child support.

At Dutko Law, we take your Family Law matter seriously. If you require a custody lawyer or child support attorney in Reading, Allentown, or Easton, Pennsylvania, we can help. Contact us today for a FREE CONSULTATION and put our experience to work for you.