Williamsport, PA asked in Family Law and Child Custody for Pennsylvania

Q: Why would it be helpful to allow the other parent to file for custody first?

The child is mainly with me an goes with other parent on weekends there are safety concerns with the other parent such as him drinking an driving an even showing up to pick child up with an open container in vehicle. When I spoke with a lawyer the suggested to let him file first but im confused as to why I should do that...we don't currently have any legal custody agreement at this time

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1 Lawyer Answer
Cary B. Hall
Cary B. Hall
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Norristown, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: The only reason I can think of to let the other parent file first is to save yourself the court filing fee of opening up a custody case (which can run a few hundred dollars, and is $155.00 in Lycoming County).

Pennsylvania criminal law already prohibits a person from driving while intoxicated or with an open container in a vehicle, but you could certainly have those prohibitions specifically included in a custody order as well. In addition, verbal custody agreements are great . . . until there's a disagreement. And usually those disagreements happen right before a major event, like a holiday or a prepaid vacation, and there's little or no time to seek redress from the courts.

So while it may seem counter-intuitive -- because folks don't want to "rock the boat" -- the best time to seek a written custody order is when everything *is* going smoothly. In such a case, the parents are already in agreement and the court simply formalizes it. And then you both have a binding court order if things go south all of a sudden. You can also wave the court order to quiet the grumblings of meddling family members or significant-others too.

Best of luck to you.

Ryan L Hyde agrees with this answer

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