There are two major types of Child Custody: Legal Custody and Physical Custody. Legal Custody is the right to make major decisions (such as educational, medical, & religion) on behalf of your child. Physical Custody is the physical possession and control of the child. Physical Custody may be: sole, shared, primary or partial and/or supervised.
How is Child Custody Determined?
The standard for determining appropriate custody and care of the child is based on the standard referred to as the “best interest of the child.” In order to determine the best interest of the child, the Courts will generally look at 16 different factors. Some of these factors include:
- Which party (i.e. parent) is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
- The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child's maturity and judgment.
- The need for stability and continuity in the child's education, family life and community life.
- Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child's emotional needs.
- Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
Is a Child Custody Order modifiable?
Yes. If there is a current custody order in place you may petition the court for a modification. The process is extremely similar to filing an initial custody complaint. The court will consider “the best interest of the child” in granting the modification or denying the request. The parent challenging the current custody order and asking for the modification must show why the present order is no longer in the best interest of the child.
Do Grandparents have rights in a Child Custody case?
Yes. A grandparent may file a custody petition for any form of legal or physical custody of a grandchild if (1) the relationship began with the consent of the parents or court order; (2) the Grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and one of the following is met: (A) the child has been determined dependent; (B) the child is at substantial risk for parental abuse or neglect; or (C) the child has, for a period of at least 12 month consecutively, resided with the grandparent, and is removed from the home by the parents.
Child support is financial assistance provide from one parent to the other to contribute to the needs of the child. Child support may include medical and child care expenses. Here at Hynum Law, we understand the financial stress that may be a part of raising a child. Understanding the Pennsylvania Child Support guidelines is important us.
How is Child Support Calculated?
In Pennsylvania, Child Support is determined generally by looking at the net income of both parties. The Court will use the net income of both parties and apply a formula to calculate the amount of support owed. The Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines are heavily focused on the net income of the parties and the total number of children. Although the formula is generally applied, there are several deviations that may be applied to lower the cost of the support obligation. Understanding the Child Support Guidelines and Deviations is essential to the support outcome in your case.
The Attorney’s at Hynum Law are experienced in navigating the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines. We are here to help you understand how the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines are applied and how to get the best possible results in your case.
Who may ask for Child Support?
Normally, the primary custodial parent (parent with the child the most) will request child support from the non-custodial parent. This is based on the assumption the primary parent spends the most time and money on the child. If the parenting time is shared, the parent with the higher income will be responsible for support.
Pennsylvania law allows “care-takers” to request child support, this includes, guardians and extended family members. Any person caring for the child may bring a support action even if a custody order has not been issued.
Can Child Support be modified?
Yes. Either parent may petition the court for a review of the current support order, however there must be a “material and substantial change in circumstances” to warrant the relief. The following situations may grant a modification:
- Significant increase or decrease in income of either parent;
- Significant increase in medical or child care expenses;
- A change in the custody arrangement;
- Other changes in circumstances.
Generally, a voluntary reduction in income (such as accepting a lower paying job or resigning) will not be considered by the court as a substantial change to warrant a deduction in support.