For many parents, the custody of their children is of paramount importance and frequently the most emotionally difficult aspect of divorce or dissolution of a relationship.
Legal custody includes the right to make decisions about a child’s education, medical care, religious upbringing and other significant aspects of a child’s life. Physical custody refers to where the children live. One parent may have primary physical custody or the parties may have shared physical custody. In determining child custody, the courts are charged with deciding what is in the “best interests of the child”.
Ideally the two parties will be able to decide the best custodial arrangement for their children. When the court must make a custody determination, the court does not favor one parent over another. Instead, the court looks at many factors and the strengths and weaknesses of each parent and then determines which custody arrangements will best provide for the children’s physical and emotional best interest. In its consideration, the court will also examine which parent is most likely to permit an open and continuing relationship with the other parent.
Under Pennsylvania law, child support is mandated until a child reaches the age of 18 and has graduated from high school. In limited circumstances, a duty of support may continue beyond the age of 18 if the child is unable to support herself or himself because of a physical or mental disability. The amount of child support that is payable is based upon the monthly after-tax incomes of the parents. In certain cases, the court takes into consideration the earning capacity of a party.
Pennsylvania courts apply the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of support payable for the children. The Guidelines are income-based and also factor in the number of children in the family. In child support cases, the court also addresses the issues of medical insurance and payment for child care costs and also medical expenses that are not covered by insurance. Ms. Cherner and Ms. Czekaj have many years of experience in handling child support cases and child custody cases in Delaware County, Chester County and Philadelphia. They will assist you in the preparation of a child custody or child support agreement, or they will initiate custody proceedings or file a complaint for child support in the appropriate jurisdiction.