How Does Your Income Level Affect Custody Cases?
When you are going through a divorce in Pennsylvania, you might be concerned about how your income from work could affect the child custody and visitation issues that remain to be sorted out as you head for your final divorce settlement. Whether you earn more or less than the spouse that you are divorcing, even if you were the stay-at-home parent with zero income during the duration of the marriage, life as you know it has been disrupted and will look different. Now, among all the concerns that you have, the future of your children is a top priority for you as they too will be affected by the coming changes resulting from your divorce.
What a Court Looks at to Determine Custody in Pennsylvania
To anticipate what may come next for your minor children as far as custody is concerned, it is helpful for you know that the court involved with your divorce proceedings will consider what is in the best interests of your children as a standard for their custodial care.
While income may have a very small part to play in the circumstances for your children’s future, it is not a sole deciding factor in what comes next for them. For example, a less wealthy parent may be able to spend more physical time with a child if they can provide the best environment for them. An attorney can advise any questions you have regarding this possibility.
There are multiple other aspects of determining child custody that may not be necessarily tied to money, and these include:
- How involved and connected you were relationally to your kids prior to the divorce
- Where you are living post-divorce, including whether your arrangement is stable and what your distance is to your children
- The type of transition that will least interrupt the lives of children
- How young the children are and who their primary caregiver was before the divorce
- What your relationship with the other parent is like, including if its cordial and doesn’t put children in the middle of contentious conflict
- The children’s preferences in terms of which parent they gravitate towards, for custody and visitation
- Whether there is a record of abuse or neglect on the part of a parent
- Additional factors such as sibling relationships, proximity of extended family, and more
All this is not to say that income won’t be an important factor in the future care of your children. Your income can play an influential role in the kind of neighborhood you’re able to live in after your divorce. With the various custody and visitation arrangements that will be options for you, you’ll want to consider this as you plan your life after divorce and as your own life decisions can impact the custody and visitation options in a final agreement.
Child Support and Spousal Support
It takes time and financial resources to care for children after a divorce that may have already taken a significant toll on them. When a court considers the best interest of the children, income may come into play in the areas of child support and spousal support.
In Pennsylvania, the parent who spends more physical time to care for the child can be awarded child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent. This will be in accordance with child support guidelines in Pennsylvania, and family law attorney can walk you through the formula for how this is calculated.
In addition to this formula, it is also important for you as a parent to be aware that a judge can increase or decrease the amount awarded in child support, based on the following considerations:
- How the assets and liabilities of both parents compare to one another
- Needs of the child that might be considered unique
- Remaining uncovered medical expenses
- Additional household income
- Other issues that will support the best interests of the child
Concerning spousal support, this is available to the spouse who earns less until the divorce is finalized. After everything has been divided when a divorce is finalized, alimony may be awarded to the parent who earns less to assist in supporting them. This is separate from child support, and an attorney can explain how your alimony award can impact the calculation for child support in your specific situation.
How an Attorney Can Address Your Custody Case
The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. can help guide you through your child custody concerns. When there are financial concerns on your end and you worry about your child’s future, we can take a closer look at your unique situation and may be able to address what your options are for how to best care for them. Call us at (610) 645-0100.