West Chester Child Custody Attorney Cares About Your Kids
Helping parents successfully resolve child custody issues
Parents understandably worry about how their divorce will affect their children and the time each parent gets spend with them. Catherine H. Voit has guided families through the challenging child custody process for more than two decades. She takes the time to learn about you and your child so she can come up with an individualized solution.
Understanding the types of custody arrangements
A number of custody arrangements are possible under Pennsylvania law. The term “legal custody” refers to the responsibility for making important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, including the child’s education, medical treatment and religious training. The decision-making authority may be shared between the parents (shared legal custody) or awarded to one parent (sole legal custody).
The term “physical custody” refers to responsibility for providing your child’s housing and day-to-day needs. It can also take several forms:
- Shared physical custody — Both parents have approximately equal periods of time when they have physical custody of the child.
- Partial physical custody — One parent has physical custody of the child for less than half of the time.
- Primary physical custody — One has parent has physical custody of the child for more than half of the time.
- Sole physical custody — One parent has physical custody all of the time.
Factors influencing the courts’ custody decisions
If parents cannot arrive at an agreement about child custody, the courts determine the best custody arrangement for the child. Under Pennsylvania’s revised child custody laws, courts may no longer consider the parent’s gender when making custody determinations. They also will not automatically award custody to the parent who has traditionally served as the child’s primary caretaker.
While the guiding principle in any custody determination is still the “best interests of the child,” the new custody laws also outline several specific considerations that the court must take into account, including:
- Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent
- Any abuse committed by a parent or member of the parent’s household
- The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life
- The availability of extended family and the child’s sibling relationships
- The preference of the child, if the child is mature enough to make a reasoned judgment
- Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child
- Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child
Studies confirm that children benefit from continued relationships with both parents. Therefore, courts favor custody arrangements and custody modifications that allow both parents to participate in the upbringing of the child.
Whether you are seeking shared or sole custody, Catherine H. Voit protects your parental rights and the interests of your child.
Pennsylvania child support guidelines
Pennsylvania follows the “income shares” model to determine child support. The premise is that the child of separated, divorced or non-cohabitating parents should receive the same proportion of parental income that she or he would have received if the parents lived together.
Both parents are required to contribute financially to the child’s needs. In many West Chester divorce cases, the custodial parent makes these contributions through direct expenditures for food, shelter, clothing, transportation and other reasonable needs, while the noncustodial parent makes contributions through periodic child support payments to the custodial parent.
In determining the reasonable needs of the child and the ability of each parent to provide support, the guidelines focus on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties. However, the guidelines have the flexibility to accommodate deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors.
If you are facing a child support dispute, you need an experienced West Chester family lawyer on your side. Catherine H. Voit understands Pennsylvania’s child support guidelines and how to apply them to your case.
Contact a respected child custody lawyer in West Chester
Catherine H. Voit is a compassionate family lawyer who will work diligently to resolve your child custody conflict with the least disruption to you and your family. To set up an appointment, call Catherine today at 484.881.3185 or contact her online. Evening and early morning appointments are available upon request.