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Custody Lawyers Serving Lancaster Pennsylvania

Child custody involves complex issues of law and fact. Decisions are regularly handed down by the appellate courts to provide guidance to Judges as to how cases should be decided. The custody lawyers at May, May & Zimmerman closely track developments in the law so that we can successfully represent your interests in a child custody case.

Our process starts with a relaxed, in-office assessment. During the assessment we will educate you as to how custody truly works in Lancaster County, help you identify your goals and begin the process of developing strategies to accomplish your goals.

Get the help you need to navigate your child custody case. Our custody lawyers have been working with Lancaster, PA families since 1929. We're here to answer your questions and help you get results.

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father playing with son in swimming pool

Mother's / Father's Rights

All too frequently we hear from prospective clients that the Judges are biased toward the mother in child custody cases. Our experience confirms that is a myth. At May, May & Zimmerman, we've seen time and again that our judges can be relied upon to apply the law without gender bias when the facts are properly presented and our arguments are logically made.

There was a time that the majority of mothers in intact families were the primary caretakers of the children, often staying home while the fathers were the sole breadwinners. Times have changed. Many, if not most, families now include two working parents or a single parent. But as gender roles and family composition have changed, the courts have changed with them. Whether you are the mother or the father facing a custody dispute, you can expect to walk into the courtroom on a level playing field.

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parents fighting over child custody

The Child Custody Process

If the parties are in agreement as to what is best for their child or children but want the security of a court order, one of them may file a custody complaint with the agreement attached and ask the court to enter an order making the agreement an order of court.

Every time a custody complaint is filed in Lancaster County without an agreement attached, the court orders the parties to participate in a conciliation conference. The goal of the conciliation conference is to help the parties reach an agreement and a hearing.

If an agreement can be reached, the conference officer may recommend trying a specific arrangement for a trial period, followed by a follow-up conference. If the proposed arrangement is not successful, that will be discussed at a follow-up conference - or the matter proceeds to a hearing.

Hearings are often horrible. Because we cannot predict in advance what particular facts a judge will use to make their decision, we most often have to include quite a bit of negative evidence about the other party when presenting a case. The result is the polarization of the two most important resources in the life of the children who are at the center of custody cases. As a result, hearings should be viewed as a last resort and used only when no agreement can be reached between the parties.

We try to help our clients strike a fair balance between resolving the case amicably by agreement where that is rational and digging in and proceeding to a hearing and a full-blown hearing that could intensify an already emotional - and stressful case. Either way, we have the experience and skill to help our clients achieve the outcomes they believe to be best for their children.

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wife leaving husband with their son

Custody Modification

Circumstances surrounding child custody often change and modification of an existing custody order may sometimes be required. There are many reasons either party in a custody case may seek modification including:

  • ❭ Changes in the work schedule of one or both parents that makes current arrangements unworkable
  • ❭ Extreme circumstances, such as removing a child from the home of a parent who drinks excessively, uses drugs or engages in behavior that puts the child in danger
  • ❭ Changes in the child's circumstances, such as educational or medical requirements
  • ❭ A child has reached a certain age and is requesting different arrangements
  • ❭ The primary custodial parent desires to move with the child outside of the jurisdiction of the Court.

At May, May & Zimmerman, LLP, our attorneys have been handling custody modification matters in Lancaster County since 1929. You can be confident in our ability to seek a positive change to your custody arrangement, or to prevent proposed changes that you believe would not be in the best interest of your child.

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grandfather playing with grandchild

Grandparent Custody Rights

The first issue in any custody lawsuit involving a grandparent is whether or not the grandparent has standing to begin and proceed with the lawsuit. If the grandparent does not have standing, the case can be dismissed.

For a grandparent, it is critically important to develop and present the facts in a way that support the conclusion that the grandparent has standing. The attorneys at May, May & Zimmerman have experience representing grandparents and critically analyzing standing issues to properly advise our clients and present the facts.

For parents who wish to raise their children without the burden of a court order requiring them to place their children in the custody of a grandparent from time to time, it is equally critical to raise the issue of standing at the earliest opportunity. Our successes in this area include causing a case to be dismissed years after custody orders where entered after a change in the law.

The issue of grandparents' rights is an evolving area of the law. Pennsylvania has made it clear that maintaining relationships between grandparents and grandchildren is valuable for children, although consideration must be given to the impact on the parent-child relationship. At the law firm of May, May & Zimmerman, we are experienced in this area of the law and proud to stand up for the rights of grandparents in Lancaster County.

If you are a grandparent who wishes to seek child custody or wants to maintain your rights to see your grandchild, we're here to help.

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