Custody is one of the most emotional and difficult issues in a divorce. There may be concerns about whether a parent’s income plays an outsized role in child custody decisions. But there are many family law issues involved in these legal decisions.
Best interests of the child
Physical and legal custody may be awarded. These can be granted to one parent or shared.
Courts usually consider the bests interests of the child while deciding custody. This includes a review of such matters as health, child’s preference, childcare arrangements, the family’s location, and educational opportunities.
Courts may review the ability of each parent to financially support their child. A judge can also review the ability of a stay-at-home parent to earn income after returning to work or payment of spousal or child support to that parent to ensure the child’s needs are met.
Income may also play a part in a parent’s motivation to seek custody. A parent with less income or resources may lack the ability to engage in a long custody battle. On the other hand, a parent seeking to avoid or lower their financial responsibility for child or spousal support may not raise custody matters.
Calculation of child support in Pennsylvania and 40 other states is based upon the income shares model. Under this model, there is an assumption that child should receive the same proportion of income from the noncustodial parent that they would receive if both parents lived together.
If both parents earn the same income or custody is split evenly, a court may rule that child support is unnecessary.
Child support is not tax deductible for the paying parent or reportable as taxable income for the recipient parent. Child support may last until the child reaches 18, 21 or completes college.
A spouse may also receive spousal support which is also commonly known as alimony. Courts order this support which is typically paid by a higher-earning parent to the other lower earning parent. Courts consider many factors for this support which often depends on earning capacity.
Attorneys can advise parents on their rights and options. They can also help seek a fair and reasonable custody order.