Family Law Myths

At LaMonaca Law, we specialize in the practice of family law. This includes custody, divorce, child support, protection from abuse and many other matters. The legal landscape of family law is always changing and you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney at all stages of the process. There are some misconceptions and myths about family law in Pennsylvania that have been addressed and debunked by statutes, case law and procedural rules. Listed below are a few of the many myths and truths about this area of the law.

Myth: Custody laws favor the mother.

Fact: In 2011, the custody laws in Pennsylvania underwent significant changes. Importantly, the custody laws became gender neutral, putting fathers and mothers on a level playing field. Any judge or master making a determination about child custody must evaluate the case based on what is in the best interest of the child. There are sixteen factors that must be considered in making this determination. 23 Pa.C.S. 5328 (a). These factors give no preference to mother or father and, instead, consider, for example, who has been the primary care giver for the child, the parties’ ability to co-parent, and which parent is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child, among other factors.

 

Myth: Individually titled property is not subject to division in a divorce.

Fact: The critical questions when determining what gets divided in a divorce is when the property was acquired. If property was acquired during the marriage, then it is marital property subject to equitable distribution, even if acquired in the name of only one spouse. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, such as an inheritance received by one party. Marital property will be divided according to the factors set forth in 23 Pa. C.S. 3502(a). The factors take into consideration the health and age of the parties, the length of the marriage, and the earning capacity of both parties.

 

Myth: Fathers always have to pay more child support

Fact: The Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines take into account the net income of both parties. This too is a gender neutral system based solely on the parties monthly income. If the parties have shared custody (50/50), then the party that is paying child support will receive a credit for shared custody. In a 50/50 scenario, the parent with the higher earnings will pay child support.

 

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If you have any questions about the facts of family law, please click or call 610-892-3877 to speak to an experienced family law attorney at LaMonaca Law.

About the author

About Melissa Towsey

Melissa graduated from the University of Virginia in 2002 with a double major in Sociology and Foreign Affairs. After working for several years as a paralegal in Washington, D.C., she attended The University of Villanova School of Law and graduated in 2010. During law school, Melissa was involved in several public interest organizations and published an article in Villanova’s Environmental Law Journal, “Something Stinks: The Need for Environmental Regulation of Puppy Mills” 21 Vill. Envtl. L.J. 159 (2010) http://www.animallaw.info/articles/arus21villenvtllj159.htm. After law school, Melissa clerked for the Honorable Thomas G. Parisi, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division in the Court of Common Pleas, Berks County. Melissa is the supervising attorney of the firm’s Appellate Unit. The Appellate Unit handles all aspects of the appellate process for family law cases as well as advanced research within the firm. Melissa and her husband, Paul, reside in Montgomery County with their two cats Wembley and Gobo. In her spare time, she enjoys audiobooks, barbeques, and watching action movies.