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Case Notes: Shared Custody

In the case of S.B. v. B.P., FD 04-002820, Allegheny CP (March 26, 2012), the local Allegheny County court dealt with a Mother who appealed from a Court Order providing shared custody between Mother and Father. Due to both parties having trouble communicating, the trial court issued an Order granting the parties week-on, week-off custody with one full month of custody for each parent during the summer. The Order also included language that Father and Mother were not to speak with each other.

Mother appealed, essentially arguing that Father did not deserve shared custody, and that barring communication would cut her off from her daughter during Father's custodial time. However, the court concluded that Mother was incapable of working with Father for their daughter's best interest. Mother had a history of not bringing the child to custodial exchanges and even changed her phone number with no advance notice to Father.

The court also found that Mother could communicate directly with daughter if she so chose. Mother's bad faith actions in prior custody litigation, coupled with Father's genuine and repeated attempts to maintain a relationship with his daughter (despite Mother's interference) meant that both parties should share custody but have no communication with each other.

One of the most important things good legal counsel can do is give good advice for dealing with difficult parents and backing that up with a well-presented case. .