Child Support in Pennsylvania

Child Support Basics

Are You Entitled to Child Support?:  In order to be entitled to collect child support, you must be the parent that has custody of the children for fifty percent (50%) or more of the time. This percentage is determined to calculating the number of overnights that a child stays with a parent. If parents share custody equally (50/50), a support order may be entered against the party that has the greater income. If the parties have incomes that are similar, there may be no support awarded to either.  

A complaint for child support must be filed with the Domestic Relations Section of the Court. Support will be effective from the date that you file, even though the hearing will not be held until some later date. Generally, you cannot recover support for the time prior to the date that you file. 

How is the Amount of Support Calculated?:  In Pennsylvania, the amount of child support owed is calculated by applying the statewide Child Support Guidelines. The amount of child support that a person owes is determined by using each parent’s  “net income”. ‘Net Income’ is specifically defined by the Support Guidelines. Only certain items are deducted from a party’s “gross income” (which includes income from any source) to reach a net income amount. These deductions include: federal, state, and local income taxes; unemployment compensation taxes, Local Taxes, F.I.C.A. payments (Social Security, Medicare and Self-Employment taxes), non-voluntary retirement payments, mandatory union dues, and alimony paid to the other party. The net incomes are entered into the Child Support Guidelines and a base child support amount is determined. Other expenses can be added to the base child support amount including expenses incurred for daycare/childcare costs so that a parent can work; extracurricular activities, medical insurance premium payments made by a party, and private school tuition.  A parent who lives in the former marital residence may be eligible for "mortgage deviation" contribution if the mortgage payment exceeds a certain amount.  Other factors to consider that affect the child support amount are substantial, shared, or split physical custody.  If a child spends 40% or more overnights per year with a noncustodial parent, a rebuttable presumption exists that the noncustodial parent is entitled to a reduction in their child support obligation. 

Modification of Child Support- Child Support Orders are modifiable if there has been a "material and substantial change in circumstances" since the entry of the order or a party can request a review of an order if three years has passed since the date of the prior order.  A change in circumstances can be an increase or decrease in one parent’s income, or a change in daycare, school or medical expenses. The person seeking a modification must file a Petition to Modify with the Court. The Court (Domestic Relations Section) will review the circumstances of each party and determine if a modification is appropriate. It is important to know that the Court may modify the existing Order in any way to reflect the new circumstances. That means if you file to decrease an order, but the circumstances show it should be increased, the Court can order an increase. Therefore, it is critical to review your situation with an experienced family lawyer before you file.  

When does Child Support End?- A Parent is legally obligated to pay child support until the child turns age 18 and graduates from high school. It is possible to be paying support for a child that is 18 if that child has not yet graduated for high school.  

  

Do You Have Questions about Child Support?

If you have questions regarding paying, collecting or modifying Child Support, contact Attorney Carl Knapp. He has more than 20 years of family law experience to assist you with any child support issues that you might have. As an experienced, Montgomery County, family law attorney, Carl Knapp can help you establish a new child support order, modify an existing order or help you if you are being sued for child support.   

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