Child support is support typically paid from one parent to another. Which parent receives child support depends on the parties’ incomes and the custody schedule of their children. If one parent has primary custody of the parties’ children (overnight custody for more than 50% of the year), that parent will typically receive child support from the other parent; however, the paying parent will have a reduction in their obligation if he/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 for paying child support.
In Pennsylvania, the amount of child support owed is determined pursuant to established Rules and Guidelines. The Guidelines consider each party’s income or earning capacity in order to calculate each parent’s share of basic child support. In addition, the Rules require parents to share expenses such as health insurance for the children, child care necessary for the parties to work and some activity expenses (especially if the child has historically been involved in a particular activity). Furthermore, the Rules require an allocation of the children’s medical expenses between the parties in proportion to their incomes.
Child support is always modifiable based on a change in circumstances including changes to the custody schedule and certain changes in the parties’ incomes. Child support terminates once a child turns 18 years of age 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 child support to continue beyond the age of 18 and high school graduation.
In late 2017, there were modifications made to the Pennsylvania Rules regarding payment of support for a minor child residing with a third party (not a parent) such as a grandparent or a county agency. The calculation of child support in that scenario is different than the calculation of child support owed from one parent to another and incudes the incomes of the parents, but not the caretaker.
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. Sitting down with an attorney to evaluate the facts of your case, (including both parties’ incomes), is the best way to ascertain whether you will have exposure to pay support or whether you are likely to receive support. Having an idea of the impact of support, in all forms, will help you plan ahead both emotionally and financially.