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Child support and custody during divorce

Parents in Pennsylvania may go through difficult and emotionally challenging times when they decide to divorce, especially if both partners are particularly close to the children. Transitioning from a full-time to part-time parent can be complex, especially when the partners can't come to an agreement over child custody and parenting time. When the matter winds up in court without a negotiated agreement, both parents may feel as if they are not receiving a fair shake. While mothers often feel they are not taken seriously, fathers may worry about being subject to gender bias.

After all, 80 percent of cases involve mothers with full or primary custody. However, most of those situations do not involve custody battles. The father is sometimes not involved or does not seek a higher level of custody. When fathers do affirmatively seek custody, they are often successful. Joint or shared custody is increasingly becoming the legal standard across the country, but fathers could still face biased or traditional judges who still view mothers as typical caregivers for children.

Child support can also pose challenges, especially if one parent's financial situation changes after a support order was already issued in family court. Support amounts are based on state guidelines that take parental income and time with the child into consideration. However, if a parent loses a job or becomes disabled after the support order is in place, debt can begin to rack up. Unpaid child support debt can even lead to jail time for contempt of court.

Parents can take action to stop the crisis of mounting debt. For example, a family law attorney can help a parent file for a child support modification. A modified order will be based on a parent's current financial situation.

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