If you are a young married person who is facing a Pennsylvania divorce and child custody dispute, you feel overwhelmed and anxious about your future. You are worried about how the divorce will affect your children, your finances and your emotional well-being. You may also wonder what options you have to resolve your situation.
Divorce in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to end your marriage. You can simply file for divorce based on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which means that you and your spouse have been living separately for at least one year, or that you both agree that the marriage is irreparably broken.
However, even if you file for a no-fault divorce, you still have to deal with other issues, such as property division, alimony, child support and child custody. These issues can be complex and contentious, especially if you and your spouse do not agree.
Child custody involves deciding who will have legal custody (the right to make major decisions for the children) and physical custody (the right to have physical contact with the children) of your children after a divorce. Pennsylvania courts follow the best interests of the child standard when making custody decisions.
Child support is money that one parent pays to the other to help cover the costs of raising their children after a divorce. The amount of child support depends on various factors, such as the income of each parent, the number of children involved, the custody arrangement, the needs of the children (including education, health care, childcare, etc.) and any other relevant factors. Pennsylvania has child support guidelines that provide a formula for calculating child support based on these factors.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide your marital property (the property that you acquired during your marriage) in a way that is fair and reasonable, but not necessarily equal. The court will consider various factors, such as the length of your marriage, your income and earning potential, your contributions to the marriage (including homemaking and childcare), your age and health and any other relevant circumstances. You can avoid going to court by reaching a property settlement agreement with your spouse, where you decide how to divide your assets and debts on your own terms.