Most family law actions that will be filed include a filing fee for the initial complaint or pleading. A part of these filing fees go to fund the Pennsylvania Children's Trust Fund (CTF). This fund has received approximately $40 million dollars from family law filing fees since inception. The initiative of the CTF is to prevent child abuse and neglect across the state. The main emphasis of CTF is to put prevention programs in place to decrease child abuse and neglect overall. The CTF grants its money to local community programs with the same initiatives. It is up to the respective community programs to apply with CTF to see if they are eligible for a grant. Currently, upwards of 250 community based programs across the state have received grants to aid in the fight against child abuse and neglect.
Financial obligations in the context of a divorce can create a strain on the party ordered to pay. If a party is simply unable to keep up with all their obligations they may consider filing for bankruptcy. A bankruptcy filing generally results in an automatic stay meaning the party filing for bankruptcy is protected from creditors seeking payment from them until the bankruptcy is resolved however there are exceptions to this general rule. 11 U.S.C § 362 (b) provides that the filing of a bankruptcy petition does not operate as a stay for any proceeding regarding the establishment or modification of an order for domestic support obligations, concerning child custody or visitation, or for the dissolution of a marriage (including decree with court order or property settlement agreement except to the extent that such proceeding seeks to determine the division of property that is property of the estate). Accordingly, a party may not seek to dismiss all their obligations in a family law matter by filing for bankruptcy. Pennsylvania case law reiterates this point. In Schulze v. Schulze, 15 B.R. 106 (1981), the court held that "there can be no doubt that the state court action as it pertains to divorce and the custody of the minor children should not be stayed."
Custody refers to the rights of a parent or other adult to be responsible for a minor. In family law there are several types of custody that may come into play. Sec 5322 defines all the different variations of custody. First, there is legal custody versus physical custody. Legal custody is defined as "the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including but not limited to, medical, religious and educational decisions." As it relates to legal custody, it can either be shared between the parents or other responsible parties meaning they have to consult with one another and agree on the major decisions or one parent/party can have sole legal custody and make any decision on their own.