Determining which parent gets custody of the children is one of the most overwhelming facets of divorce. As lawyers focusing on family law, we have answered hundreds of questions about Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws and procedures regarding child support and child custody. Below are a few of the most common questions.
What is the difference between joint custody and sole custody?
When a parent is granted sole custody by the court, he or she is known as the custodial parent and has all legal and decision-making responsibilities and physical control of the child. The other parent, called non-custodial parent, maintains a relationship with the child through specified visitation rights.
On the other hand, joint custody means the separated parents share the responsibilities and/or physical control of the child. Joint custody is advantageous for the child because of the regular, continued contact and involvement with both parents. Each family is different, so the terms outlined in the agreement will vary from family to family. The objective is always to arrive at a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
Divorcing parents have the opportunity to discuss the terms and reach an agreement regarding child custody. If they are unable to agree on these terms, the court will impose an arrangement based on what it deems is best for the child.
How does the court determine who gets custody?
When the court must step in and come up with the custody terms, it will determine if one parent is unfit to share custody. Factors to be considered include a parent’s living situation, past alcohol or drug use and history of abuse or neglect.
If my ex and I have joint custody of our children, do I still have to pay child support?
Child support is calculated based on the arrangement of time spent with the child as well as a parent’s income. As a result, one parent will owe some amount of child support to the other, even if both parents have an agreement that shares custody equally.
How is child support calculated?
In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, courts calculate child support using a complex algebraic equation based on the relevant average cost for a family to raise a child. The equation also factors in parent income, the number of children, and more. The determined payment is the approximate amount the parent would have theoretically spent to care for the child, had the divorce never taken place.
While many family law firms can use software to estimate the amount a parent will likely owe, it is often difficult to predict the final amount with absolute certainty.
Do You Have More Questions?
If you have kids and you’ve decided to divorce your spouse, you likely have many questions about the months and years to come. Feel free to call (215) 523-6900 to discuss your situation or to get help determining a child support estimate. The lawyers at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC can answer all your questions regarding your family legal matter and help you get on the right track to a great resolution.