Pennsylvania child custody issues can involve many complex legal factors. Child custody issues are a crucial element of divorce proceedings when minor children are involved in the dissolution of a Pennsylvania marriage. When a family law court decides child custody issues, its decisions are governed by Pennsylvania’s new child custody law, Act 112 of 2010. The PA child custody law lays out the factors to be considered in determining the best interests of the child. Learn more about Pennsylvania’s new child custody law.
Child custody issues determine who will have physical and legal custody of the children. Physical custody is the actual possession and control of a minor child. Generally, the court will determine whether a mother or father should have primary physical custody, partial physical custody, joint physical custody, or visitation. Primary physical custody means that one party gets to spend the majority of the custodial time with a minor child. Shared or joint physical custody generally means that both parents will share equally in the overnight periods of custody. Partial physical custody is the right of one parent to have possession of the child that may include overnights, but the other parent is exercising primary physical custody. Visitation refers to designated times and/or conditions under which the noncustodial parent sees the children apart from the custodial parent.
Legal custody is the right to make important decisions that affect the minor child. These decisions include choices regarding medical care, education, religion and more. Pennsylvania family courts often grant shared legal custody to parents unless the circumstances prevent the parents from being able to cooperate with each other regarding these important decisions.
Child support arrangements may also be established in cases involving custody. When primary physical custody is awarded to one parent, the other parent may be required to pay child support under PA law. The amount of child support awarded by the court is established in accordance with the Pennsylvania Support Guideline, which is in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 1910.16. The Pennsylvania Support Guideline was developed on the premise that the children of divorced parents should receive the same proportion of parental incomes as if the parents were together. The actual amount of child support to be paid is calculated by taking many factors into consideration. These factors include each parent’s actual and/or potential earning capacity, the number of children involved, any special needs of the children and extraordinary expenses related to the children.
If you have questions about Pennsylvania child custody issues, please contact our Montgomery County, PA family law firm to speak with an experienced attorney who can assess your case to determine how to best protect your legal interests.