DUTY OF CHILD SUPPORT
Pennsylvania law typically requires the parents of a son or daughter to provide support to their child at least until he or she is 18 years old and graduates from high school. The law presumes that parents living together are financially supporting their children. But what happens when the parents are separated and living at different addresses, or are divorced?
Parents who live separate and apart or who are divorced still owe a duty to financially support their children as best they can, given their earnings history and capacity. Often the parent who has physical custody of the children for most of the time will need to obtain help getting financial assistance for the children from the other parent. How much financial support does the other parent owe?
Amount of Child Support
For most separated or divorced parents of children, Pennsylvania has established support guidelines for our courts to follow when determining how much child support a parent owes. The amount of child support owed is based on the parents’ respective earnings or earning capacities and also the number of children who require financial support. An earning capacity for a parent must be established if that parent is not earning as much as he or she is able to given his or her educational training, employment history, and earnings history. Parents with combined monthly net incomes in excess of $30,000.00 per month present what are called “high income cases” and a particular analysis must be applied to these cases to calculate the parties’ respective child support obligations.
When both parties are salaried employees who receive W-2s for their tax returns – and who have no other sources of income – the calculation for determining the appropriate amount of child support is fairly uncomplicated. But that situation changes once someone owns or derives income from a business. In those cases, the business expenses can often be income for child support purposes. For example, expenses for automobiles, cellular phones, or meals charged to the business, often become hidden income for Pennsylvania child support law purposes when those expenses are used for non-business purposes.
Additional Child Support Obligations
A parent owes more than just a monthly amount of income for child support. There are also parental obligations for the costs of a minor child’s health insurance, extracurricular activities, private or parochial school tuition, unreimbursed medical, orthodontia, or psychological expenses. A child support order will include directions for paying these types of expenses in addition to the monthly amount of basic child support.
How MFDD’s Experienced Family Law Team Can Help You With Child Support Issues
MFDD’s experienced family law attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and technical support to calculate what income is available for child support. We calculate either the actual earnings or earning capacities of both parents and determine respective net monthly incomes. We then utilize a computer software program which mirrors the program used by Domestic Relations Sections throughout Pennsylvania to determine parental child support orders based upon the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. Of course, the more income available for child support, the higher the Support Guidelines for child support.
MFDD’s family law attorneys have many years of experience in helping clients who are seeking child support, or those being asked to provide child support, either as part of the divorce process or not. We regularly represent parents at child support conferences and hearings which lead to the Court entering a child support order. One major advantage of a child support order is that it permits wages to be garnished to pay for the child support obligation. We also assist many MFDD clients in achieving a child support agreement so that neither parent has to appear in court.
We cannot address every child support issue in this article, but our experienced family law attorneys thoroughly address all child support issues of our clients.
Child Support / Spousal Support / Alimony / Divorce
Child support may be just one issue that needs to be addressed at the time of divorce. The amount owed for child support can vary given the parents’ child custody arrangements. The issues of spousal support, or APL before divorce and alimony after divorce, are other family law issues which we will address in a future article on this site.
Please do not hesitate to contact MFDD’s experienced family law attorneys for advice on child support and all other legal matters related to divorce or separation. MFDD offers comprehensive initial consultations to address all family law questions at a reasonable cost.