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Five top questions about custody

The divorce process can be very challenging emotionally, financially and socially. If you and your spouse are parents, worry about the children’s well being is added on to the feelings you are experiencing. There are often misconceptions about divorce, mainly the matter of custody. Here are answers to the top questions divorcing parents have about child custody.

What is the difference between physical and legal custody?

Physical custody pertains to with whom the child lives. Many custody settlements have some shared arrangement. In rare instances, it is preferable for the child to have only one parent with physical custody.

Legal custody allows a parent the authority to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, medical treatment, education and religion. It is important to note that it is commonplace for both parents to share physical and legal custody of their children.

How is custody determined in Pennsylvania?

The state of Pennsylvania wants what is in the best interests of the child with divorcing parents. Therefore, the parents, with their legal representatives, can negotiate a custody arrangement. When a parental agreement is not possible, the court decides what is best for the child. Factors in the decision include who has provided the majority of the caregiving, The child’s relationship with each parent, and parental location and work schedules.

Does custody affect child support levels?

If one of the parents makes a substantial amount more money than the other and each parent has equal custody time, there is a good chance that child support will get granted to the lower earning parent. Generally, if the noncustodial parent has the kids for 40 percent or more overnights, a reduction in child support may be able to be negotiated. Again, the best interests of the children are considered as they have a right to be supported by both parent’s incomes.

What about grandparents’ rights?

Pennsylvania is more generous than other states when it comes to granting grandparents visitation rights. In cases where grandparents desire more than just visitation or partial custody, the Grandparents’ Visitation Act allows them to bring physical and legal custody petitions to court. This is usually done if both parents are not able to care for the child and the grandparents have parented the child for at least 12 months.

Can custody get modified?

Yes, as time goes on after a divorce, custody arrangements can get modified in court. Perhaps the current agreement is not working with a parent’s new job, or a child’s involvement in after-school sports or social activities results in schedule and transportation changes.

Again, the growing child’s best interests are the focus of a change in custody. A compassionate attorney with experience in family law can make an establishment or modification of a custody arrangement much more comfortable for everyone in the family.

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