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In custody, nothing’s off the table

by | May 8, 2021 | Custody And Visitation |

A recent decision from a New York appellate court made clear that, even if a parent is within his or her rights to do something, that does not mean that a court cannot consider that in custody decisions.  There, separated parents shared custody of their mixed-race daughter.  The child’s mother had a decorative rock at her home painted with a confederate flag.  The appeals court noted that, even though the mother was within her constitutional rights to have the flag displayed, the mother had a matter of weeks to remove it or the trial court could consider whether such a display served the child’s best interest.

This case illustrates a rationale that Pennsylvania custody courts routinely apply, as well.  In addition to a number of factors explicitly laid out in the Custody Act, judges deciding custody cases are permitted to weigh any “relevant factors” impacting the best interest of a child.  This gives a court a lot of latitude to consider whether, for instance, a person who drinks too much or who associates with objectionable people should have his or her custodial time limited.  As the New York case shows, even exercising a constitutional right can be contrary to the best interest of a child and could have a negative impact on custody.

If you have questions about your custody matter, please contact my office for a consultation and evaluation of your case.