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Does the Court Decide on Child Support or Divorce at the Same Time as Custody?

In Pennsylvania, unlike many other states, child custody, child support, and divorce are all decided separately. While it is possible to file a Complaint for Divorce and Custody, the Court will nevertheless separate the custody and divorce actions, which will always be heard separately (and often, by separate hearing officers or judges for each). Child support is completely separate from custody and divorce, as complaints for child support are filed with Domestic Relations, rather than with the Prothonotary’s Office, and initial child support conferences are heard by Domestic Relations staff called “conference officers.”

While divorce, child custody, and child support are inter-related—for example, child custody bears directly on whether a party has to pay child support and if so, how much—the individual judges, hearing officers, and conference officers are generally going to focus on their particular area of concern in a given hearing or conference. For example, while it may be tempting for a client to mention in a custody proceeding that they pay child support, in most cases, that’s not relevant to the child custody determination.

If you have questions about custody, divorce, or support, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.