March 25, 2016
By: Melissa Boyd
Child support in Pennsylvania divorce cases is dependent upon a large number of factors governed by rules also known as Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. Those domestic relations guidelines dictate the amount of child support which a spouse or parent should pay based on the income of both of their net monthly incomes (which is also defined by the family law rules).
Throughout one’s career, income rarely remains the same. Some income fluctuations are predictable such as annual salary increases due to regular raises and high paying positions, while other salary changes are not. There can also be both positive and negative changes that are unexpected such as bonuses, lay-offs, loss or gain of an important business and more. In addition, commission-based employees are more likely to experience regular income changes.
How to calculate child support in Pennsylvania when income changes or varies
In some instances, we can anticipate child support when income is known to fluctuates such as when one spouse or parent is a seasonal employee like a teacher who gets the summers off. In those cases, we will take an average of the income across the year in order to determine one’s monthly income.
In Pennsylvania, child support can also be adjusted by something called the “true up” method of accounting which actually means “to adjust a figure to its true value.”
When we do a true up of support, we look at what a spouse or parent should have been paying and what they are actually paying. What one should have been paying can end up being more or less than the actual child support depending on the circumstance.
When there is an adjustment of child support needed, one or the other spouse may also be required to make a “true up payment” to make up for the difference.
Typically, true up calculations are run annually, and tax return documents are used to assess income. However, speak to your family lawyers if you have had a change in your income or if you think you are owed more child support. Your support lawyer will help collect more information to determine whether expenses and bank accounts reveal additional income.
Visit the firm’s Family Law page here.
The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances. The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.
Melissa M. Boyd has been certified as a Family Law Arbitrator by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.