Child support is an incredibly contentious issue for many individuals throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In general, child support payments are established through formulas set forth under Pennsylvania statutes. Here, we want to discuss various aspects of child support decisions in the Commonwealth and talk about what you can do if you think your child support payments are unfair.
What Does Child Support Pay?
Anytime individuals have children together, supporting that child is a crucial element. Regardless of whether or not individuals are married when they have a child, both parents are responsible for caring for their child. If parents are separated, one parent will typically have to make child payments to the other parent on a monthly basis until the child reaches the age of 18.
Child support is the money the parent without physical custody will pay to the parent with physical custody. This money is designed to pay for the child’s needs, including:
- Food, shelter, clothing
- Medical and dental costs
- Childcare expenses
- Costs for education, including school supplies
- Basic travel costs
How is Child Support Calculated in PA?
Every child support arrangement is unique and will depend on the parents’ particular situation. In Pennsylvania, as in other states, there are guidelines established to help determine the base child support amount. The courts in PA calculate final child support amounts using a complex equation, and some of the factors in this equation include the following:
- The parents’ income
- The number of children
- The needs of the children
- The parents’ ability to pay for these needs
- The children’s standard of living before divorce or separation
Is Your Child Support Amount Fair?
But you need to know whether the amount of child support you are receiving or paying is fair. Most family law attorneys have some sort of software that can assist them in helping to compute a guideline for child support amounts. All of these formulas are based on how much it normally costs for a family to raise a child. However, every case is unique, and it is difficult to predict how much should be paid with absolute certainty.
If one or both parents disagree with how much child support is being paid, or if one of the parents’ financial situations changes down the line after an amount has already been set, they have the option to go back to the court and ask the judge for the payments to be increased or decreased based on the new circumstances.
If you believe that you are paying an unfair amount in child support, we strongly suggest that you speak to a skilled family law attorney who can examine the facts of your particular situation. An attorney can examine your income level and your child’s needs to help whether or not you may be able to petition the court for an increase or decrease.
You Must Pay Child Support
If you disagree with how much child support you are paying, please do not discontinue or decrease payments without first petitioning the court and getting approval. Failing to pay child support could lead to a warrant for your arrest and you being found in contempt of court. Individuals who fail to pay child support could face jail time and major fines, as well as wage garnishment and a denial of tax refunds.