Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody
What is the difference between legal and physical custody?
There are two types of custody in Pennsylvania: legal custody and physical custody. A parent who has legal custody of his or her child has the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including, but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions. Physical custody refers to the actual physical possession and control of the child. Like legal custody, one parent may have primary physical custody of a child, or physical custody may be shared.
What are the different types of physical custody?
The court may award any of the following types of physical custody if it is in the best interest of the child:
- Primary Physical Custody: A parent who has primary physical custody of his or her child has the right to assume physical custody of the child for the majority of the time.
- Partial Physical Custody: A parent who has partial physical custody of his or her child has the right to assume physical custody of the child for less than a majority of the time.
- Shared Physical Custody: When parents have shared physical custody of their child, each parent has significant periods of physical custodial time with the child.
- Supervised Physical Custody: When a parent has supervised physical custody of his or her child, during their custodial time with the child, an agency or an adult designated by the court, or agreed upon by the parties, monitors the interaction between the child and the individual with those rights.
- Split Custody: While “split custody” is not a legal term, the term is often used to describe a custody arrangement whereby parents with more than one child together split the children between the parents. Each parent retains primary physical custody over one or more of the children. For example, if the parties have two children, one of the children may reside with the mother while the other child resides with the father.
Does custody affect a child support obligation?
When parents share physical custody of the children, child support payments may be reduced. When the children spend a significant number of overnights during the year with the noncustodial parent, a rebuttable presumption exists that the noncustodial parent is entitled to a reduction in the basic support obligation to reflect this additional time. The attorneys at Cognetti & Associates can help you determine whether or not your particular custody situation will affect the child support obligation in your case.