Custody & Child Support

Child Custody

Custody and care of children are a primary issue in any divorce or domestic partnership dissolution case. Child custody is, in fact, made up of two very separate components: legal custody and residential custody. Legal custody involves the right to be involved in making major decisions regarding the child’s health, education and welfare. Residential custody is often referred to as physical custody, and revolves around the person with whom the child resides.

Generally, legal and residential custody is only a right of biological or adoptive parents. In limited circumstances, third parties may be granted the right to seek partial or primary custody of a minor child. In most cases involving a third party, visitation with the child is the primary issue, not legal custody, unless the child’s primary residence is with the third party.

A court has the power to grant many variations of legal and residential custody. The standard by which such determinations are guided is the “best interest of the child”. While it is rare for a parent’s legal rights to be terminated, there is a wide variety of ways in which residential custody may be tailored to meet the needs of parents and their children.

Giampolo Law Group has experience and knowledge involving all issues regarding child custody in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Court process in both states requires the filing of a Complaint for Custody, Court Annexed Mediation, and potentially, the involvement of child custody experts and parenting time coordinators, depending on the facts and issues of a case. Our attorneys assist clients with resolving all types of custody disputes, whether they arise at the time of separation, or years following a divorce or dissolution.

Child Support

Child support is based upon the combined gross incomes of a child’s parents. The base child support award is then determined from statistical data reflecting what would be spent on a child if the parties were living as an intact family unit. This figure is then divided between the parties on a percentage of net income basis, and adjustments are made for factors such as: work-related child care, health insurance premiums for the child, and the amount of time the child is with each parent.

A number of issues frequently arise in determining a base child support award. If a parent is under-employed, he or she may be “imputed” income status, based upon his or her earning capacity. If a parent is self-employed or receives employment benefits, such as a car allowance, then certain benefits can be added back to the parent’s income for determining child support. Where a parent’s income fluctuates year-to-year, income averaging may be utilized to determine a base line income for calculating child support.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania both utilize Statutory Child Support Guidelines, that provide a precise calculation to determine child support, utilizing the above factors. However, extreme income earners may exceed the calculation guidelines. ¬†They may require factors relative to the child’s best interest and needs, which would be applied in lieu of the child support guidelines calculation, in order to determine child support.

At Giampolo Law Group, we’ll assess all factors related to child support and help craft an award that is equitable and suitable for the child’s best interest.