Child Support vs. Child Custody in Pennsylvania

When it comes to issues surrounding child custody and financial support, it is important to understand the law to ensure your child’s best interests and your rights are protected. Whether you’re going through a divorce or need to make changes to an existing custody and child support agreement, seeking the counsel of local divorce attorneys who are well-versed in the nuances of Pennsylvania law is vital.

Types of Child Custody

Custody arrangements vary according to each family’s individual circumstances.  Having an experienced divorce attorney help you create an effective parenting plan can help you avoid some of the pitfalls and conflicts that often arise when it comes to hashing out custody with your child’s parent.

With sole custody, only one parent has custody of a child. Shared custody allows both parents to have custody, sometimes with full parental rights and responsibilities. Although sole and shared custody define who has custody of a child, legal and physical custody determine what their type of custody allows them to do. Physical custody is the right to have your child physically with you, living in your home. Parents with legal custody have the right to make major decisions for their child, including medical, religious and educational decisions.

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support is designed to ensure that each parent takes a role in providing for the financial needs of their children. Often, if one parent has sole physical custody, the parent with visitation rights will end up paying child support. However, child support obligations are not solely based on who has physical custody of the child.  In Pennsylvania, child support amounts are determined by including the gross income of both parents to determine a base amount they could provide had the family remained together. The amount of parenting time that each person spends with the children is also factored in the calculation of child support.

Support may be adjusted depending on the number of days and nights the child spends with each parent, childcare, health insurance costs, school tuition and public assistance. Even in a 50/50 shared custody arrangement, if one parent has a higher income that parent may be required to provide some child support to the other. A family law attorney will make sure all eligible income and expenses are taken into account and can help you reach a fair support agreement and file a petition with the court when necessary.

How a Family Law Attorney can Help

Custody and child support are complex issues that cannot simply be “split down the middle.” Children deserve to have happy, healthy relationships with both of their parents as long as it is safe for them to do so. Even if you and the other parent do not get along, it is important to remember that your children’s best interests should always be a top priority in any custody or support arrangement. The seasoned attorneys at our law firm in West Chester act as your advocate to help you develop custody and support agreements that are beneficial to everyone involved.