Child Custody and Support Disputes

Guiding you through a challenging process

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Child Custody Attorneys in Erie, PA

Separation, divorce, and pre-marital relationships all deal with money. Custody deals with children, the most important aspect of most people's lives. If you have turned to the justice system or to a lawyer, it is because you have tried to work things out with the other parent and can't or you have reached a point where you can no longer communicate with that person. When two parents cannot see eye to eye, it helps to have a lawyer who can remain objective and help guide you through the process.

In most circumstances, lawyers have an idea of what the final custody schedule is going to be and can help you understand the potential outcome and reasoning behind it. Agreeing on monetary disputes is simpler than agreeing on custody. You come to an agreement or get a judgment or a decree, divide up the assets, pay the money and it's done. With custody, even though the initial hearing is completed, there are milestones in your child's life that will involve the other parent, in some cases this will bring you back into the courtroom. When dealing with custody, it is important to be guided through the process and recognize that you will have to effectively communicate with the other parent, no matter how hard it is. At Elderkin Law Firm in Erie, PA we look at the big picture to ensure guidance through years of resolution, not just a few weeks of resolution.

Our Matrimonial Law and Litigation attorneys have experience with proceedings at both the initial and appeals levels of custody and support proceedings. Begin today with our Online Evaluation -OR- Schedule a consultation at our office in Erie, PA by calling (814) 456-4000.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get an order for child custody?

In Erie County, there is a two or three phase custody resolution process.  First, you file a custody petition, which a lawyer can do for you.  Erie County also requires that you go to a four-hour Parenting Seminar.  The purpose of the seminar is to help parents understand the child (ren)’s perspective when the parents are going through a custody battle.  Oftentimes, when parents have never been through a custody issue before, they forget to look at it through a child’s viewpoint.

Next, you will have a conciliation conference at the court house in which you explain why you are there, what the issues are, and your proposed solution to those issues. You should not just go in and complain, but should rather deliver a rationalized proposal.  The other side will then get the opportunity to respond.  The conciliator will try to find common ground in any areas at all. Sometimes after spending time in these meetings, parents will come to an understanding and agreement of what the schedule is going to be.  If there is no agreement at this level, then a conciliator will either schedule another conciliation conference or come up with a proposed Court Order.  If they come up with a proposed court order, they rationalize it, write it and take it to a Judge.  The Judge will sign it, and it is issued as a court order.  The conciliator also has the ability to suggest certain schedules for certain periods of time.  For example, the conciliator may tell the parents to come back in 60 days in order to determine what is or is not working, and to work out a different schedule if needed.  If you have a temporary schedule put in place, it is generally not appealable because you will not be able to get in front of a Judge before the

temporary time period is up.  If you review for the second time, and are still unable to reach an agreement, the conciliator will have the right to make a decision and make a Court Order. 

If you are not satisfied with the Court Order, you may choose to file an appeal.  When you file an appeal, you will have a very formal trial in front of a Judge.  It is not an informal dialogue like a mediation conference.  There is formal evidence, formal witnesses and formal question and answer.   The trial may include arguments and post trial statements.  The Judge will issue a Custody Order after the trial.  Sometimes that is the way custody has to be resolved, but when you rely on a third party who knows nothing about you or your family to make those types of binding family decisions, more often than not both parents will be disturbed with the outcome.  It comes at an expense, both emotional and financial.

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