Child Custody, Visitation & Relocation

Father Awarded Primary Physical Custody of Minor Children Based on Best Interests of Children Test and Mother’s Anger Problems

In the child custody case of Marks v. Marks, PICS Case No. 15-0173 (C.P. Berks, Jan. 9, 2015), the Honorable Scott E. Lash citing mother’s ongoing anger issues, the court granted plaintiff father’s motion to modify custody order and awarded physical custody to father.

Plaintiff father filed a petition to modify a custody order entered on August 20, 2013. The parties are the natural parents of four minor children. The parties reached an agreement regarding custody of the eldest minor child but continued to dispute custody of the younger three children.

The custody order set forth, among other things, that the parties would share legal custody of the minor children, that mother would have primary custody of the minor children, and that father would have partial custody every other weekend and every Wednesday evening. The order also provided that the parties would participate in co-parenting counseling.

In his petition to modify custody, father alleged that it was in the best interests of the minor children to award him primary custody because of mother’s anger issues. In addition, mother had difficulty dealing with father and making appropriate accommodations with father for the minor children. Father alleged that mother’s relationship with the minor children had deteriorated and the minor children had a greater bond with father. Father asserted he would be better able to provide a stable and safe environment for them.

A revised custody stipulation was agreed to by the parties and entered as an order on May 30, 2014, making some modification to the Aug. 20, 2013 order. One of the provisions addressed father’s concern that the maternal grandfather was exercising corporal punishment on the minor children. The parties agreed that this would no longer take place.

The parties resolved custody of the eldest son, setting forth that the parties would share legal custody, father would have primary physical custody and mother would initially have supervised visits. As of October 2014, mother would assume partial custody on weekends, unless father or the guardian ad litem believed that it would not be in the best interest to have unsupervised visits and could then petition the court for modification.

A temporary order was entered by agreement, setting forth that the parties would share physical custody of the three youngest children on a 50/50, alternate week basis, with transfers to take place on Sunday evenings.

The predominant issue raised by father was his concern about mother’s anger and its impact on the minor children. Father reported that the mother’s anger problem was constant and longstanding.

After considering the relevant factors in 23 Pa.C.S.A. 5328(a) to determine the best interests of the minor children, the court awarded primary physical custody to father. This decision was largely based on mother’s anger problem which had to be addressed. Petition to modify custody order granted.

Reference: Digest of Recent Opinions, Pennsylvania Law Journal, 38 PLW136 (February 10, 2015)

Filed Under: Child Custody, Best Interest of Children; Mother Anger Problems

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