Need Help Resolving a Child Support Issue?
Unfortunately, 50 percent of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. On top of that, almost 25 percent of children are born to unmarried parents. Just how those children will be supported is a social issue, not to mention a legal issue. It’s why state child support agencies have become aggressive when it comes to child support issues. Our child support lawyers in our Doylestown and Norristown law offices can help.
How Do Courts Establish Child Support?
Under law, children have the right to benefit from both parents’ incomes. Child support orders are issued by family court. It bases the amount of the support on each state’s guidelines. These guidelines establish the amount of support that must be paid, based largely on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children. The court will also take into account other factors like the custodial parent’s income and the needs of the children.
Courts can deviate from guidelines. Child support can be increased if there is a change in circumstances justifying the increase like an increase in the payer’s income, an increase of cost-of-living, a decrease in the custodial parent’s income or an increase in the child’s needs. The amount can be reduced as well if justified by the circumstances.
How is Child Support Paid?
Child support is typically paid from one parent to another. Payment is based on the party’s income and child custody schedule. If one parent has primary custody of the children (overnight custody for more than 50% of the year), that parent will typically receive support from the other parent. The paying parent will receive a reduction in their obligation, however, if he or she has custody of the children more than 40% of the overnights per year. If the parties have a 50/50 custody arrangement, typically the parent who earns more will be responsible.
In Pennsylvania, the amount owed is determined pursuant to established rules and guidelines. Guidelines consider each party’s income or earning capacity to calculate each parent’s share. In addition, the rules require parents to share expenses such as health insurance, child care, and some activity expenses (especially if the child has historically been involved in a particular activity). The rules also require an allocation of the children’s medical expenses between the parties in proportion to their incomes.
There are many nuances to support calculations, particularly if you or the other party have unusual or fluctuating sources of income or a nonconventional custody arrangement. You can learn more amount potential child support payments by checking out PA’s Child Support estimator. You can also learn more about your earning capacity and its impact on child support payments by clicking here.
Just a note, if payments are delinquent or fail to be made, courts can take measures like taking support amounts from tax refunds, seizing real estate or seizing other personal property.
Modifications to Child Support
Child support can be modified based on a change in circumstances including changes to the child custody schedule and changes to the party’s incomes. Child support terminates once a child turns 18 and graduates from high school. Where a child has special needs or disability that impact the child’s ability to self-support, the court may order it to continue even after those conditions have been met.
In late 2017, there were modifications made to the Pennsylvania Rules regarding child support pay for a minor child residing with a third party (not a parent) such as a grandparent or a county agency. The calculation in that scenario is different than the calculation owed from one parent to another and includes the incomes of the parents, but not the caretaker. If you need information about support order modifications during the pandemic, click here.
Child Support with Unmarried Parents
If an unmarried mother seeks child support, she can move to legally establish the father’s “paternity” of the child. If the father fails to comply, she can file a lawsuit to establish paternity. The court can order the father to comply. Once paternity is established, the court will issue an order. Whether you’re a mother looking to file a suit to determine paternity or an individual alleged to the parent, talk to our family lawyers to get sound legal counsel.
What If A Parent Moves to Another State?
If the non-custodial parent moves to another state, the custodial parent can take action ensure payments through the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act. This act provides a means of enforcing a support order in one state in the courts of another state.