Chester County Child & Spousal Support Attorney
Our West Chester PA based support lawyers represents individuals and their families in child support, spousal support and alimony matters in West Chester Pennsylvania and beyond. A signficant portion of our family law practice deals with the economics of a legal separation and maintaing that the parties receive a fair, just and equitable resolution. Learn more from one of our West Chester Pa Support lawyers.
When spouses separate, the financial situation of the household is usually significantly affected. While child support orders can address the financial needs of the children, the predicament of a non-working spouse or a spouse with a reduced income must also be considered. At Ciccarelli Law Offices we handle all aspects of family law and work with spouses to establish fair spousal support and child support agreements. For effective representation in a Pennsylvania suppot matter, contact our Pennsylvania support lawyers today. We are based in West Chester PA and serve Chester County and the greater Philadephia area. Have question about filing or contesting a petition for support or want to understand Pennsylvania’s support guidelines? Contact us by EMAIL or call at (610) 692-8700 or toll free (877) 529-2422.
The child support laws in Pennsylvania have recently been amended. At Ciccarelli Law Offices we assist clients by explaining the impact of the new provisions. When the situation requires adjustments from state guidelines, we pursue child support agreements that respond to needs of the family. We prepare agreements that take into consideration educational expenses, quality health care, clothing, and special needs for children.
Child Support in West Chester PA
In Pennsylvania, child support is payable until a child reaches eighteen years old or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. The amount of child support that is payable in a case is based upon the monthly after tax incomes or earning capacities of the child’s parents. Contact West Chester PA child support lawyer if you need legal advice and representation in a child support matter in Chester County or the Philadelphia PA region.
How is Income Defined in PA Support Cases?
Income for Pennsylvania support purposes includes such things as wages, salaries, overtime pay, commissions, bonuses, interest, rental income, retirement income, Social Security retirement or disability payments, workers compensation, unemployment compensation, income from an interest in a business, entitlements to lump sum awards such as lottery winnings and any other sources of income. If a person does not have any income, but is capable of working, the parent may be assessed with an earning capacity.
Rather than using gross or before tax income, the Pennsylvania courts use the monthly net, or after tax, incomes of each parent. Net income for support purposes is oftentimes different than the amount of money received in a parent’s paycheck or what is listed on the parent’s tax returns. For Pennsylvania support purposes, net income is defined as gross income minus actual federal, state, and local income taxes, union dues, non-voluntary retirement payments, F.I.C.A. payments, and alimony payments paid to the other party. Confusing? Contact a child support lawyer for reasonable legal advice and counseling.
Calculation of Income for Self-employed Individuals
For self-employed persons, determining the amount of income available for support purposes may be difficult. Self-employed persons may not accurately report all of their income on tax returns or may take as deductions certain expenses that are actually personal expenses. For support purposes, certain expenses that are deductible for tax purposes may not be deductible from income for support purposes. The Pennsylvania support courts will carefully scrutinize the income claimed on the tax returns of self-employed individuals for these reasons.
Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines
Once the parents’ monthly net incomes are calculated, Pennsylvania courts apply the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines to determine the amount of support payable for the children. The Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines are formulas that consider the income of the parents, the number of children, amongst other factors. In addition to the Pennsylvania Support Guideline amount, an order for child support may also require payment of a portion of other costs such as medical coverage for the dependent spouse and/or children, medical expenses not covered by insurance, and day care costs incurred while the custodial parent is working or going to school. Child support may be established below the Pennsylvania Support Guideline amount if the parents have shared physical custody or the payor has other children to support.
How Do I Begin to Collect or Modify Child Support in Pennsylvania?
A person seeking child support must file a support complaint with the court in order to establish a right to collect support. No legal obligation on the other party exists until the complaint is filed with the court. Similarly, if a reason exists to modify a support order such as an increase or decrease in income of either parent, the parent must file a request for a hearing to determine if modification of the support orderris appropriate. Until a petition for modification is filed with the court and a new court order is entered, the parent paying support is required to continue making payments as outlined in the prior court order.
How Does Spousal Support work?
Learn about making a support claim in West Chester PA and beyond. In Pennsylvania, support may be awarded to the spouse who earns less money or has a lower earning capacity than the other spouse. The three different types of support that may be awarded are called spousal support, alimony pendente lite (APL) and alimony.
Spousal Support in Chester County & Philadelphia
Prior to the filing of a divorce complaint support payable to a Pennsylvania spouse is called “spousal support.” PA spousal support is generally not available if the parties live in same residence unless it can be established that one spouse fails to contribute to household expenses. In Pennsylvania, the amount payable for spousal support is based upon a percentage of the difference of after tax monthly incomes or earning capacities of the parties after consideration of other support obligations. Pennsylvania law provides that if the spouse receiving spousal support (also known as the payee) has committed one of the fault based grounds for divorce the court has the right to refuse to award spousal support. The payer’s (person paying support) right to raise the fault grounds is called an entitlement defense to the payment of the spousal support.
In Pennsylvania, there is no fixed length of time that spousal support is payable. However, if the parties have been married for only a short period of time prior to their separation, the Pennsylvania family court can limit the duration of any spousal support (or alimony pendente lite) payments as well as the monthly amount payable. PA spousal support will generally be automatically converted into alimony pendente lite (APL) payments upon the filing of a divorce complaint by either party. Learn more about Alimony.
Understand Alimony and Alimony Pende Lite in Chester County Divorce Matters
Our lawyers help clients throughout Chester County and suburban Philadelphia handle legal issues related to alimony and alimony “pendente lite” (that is, alimony that only lasts while the litigation is pending).
Alimony in West Chester Pennsylvania
The term “alimony” (also called “spousal maintenance”) refers to a set monthly payment from one former spouse to another, ensuring that the economically weaker spouse will be able to support himself or herself. The court considers a number of factors in determining how much alimony is to be paid, including but not limited to the following:
- The relative earning capacity, education and employability of both parties
- Each party’s age, physical condition, mental condition and emotional condition
- The assets, liabilities, sources of income and needs of both parties
- The effect of any child custody arrangements on either spouse
- The length of the marriage, and the factors contributing to its downfall
- Marital misconduct on behalf of either party during the marriage (but not after a legal separation)
- Alimony Pendente Lite (APL)
As mentioned above, APL refers to alimony that is paid during the course of litigation for a divorce. APL is a temporary, immediate form of maintenance to ensure that the economically weaker spouse does not suffer undue hardship during litigation. When a divorce decree is issued, APL payments end and normal alimony payments begin. At that time, alimony payments can increase, decrease or stay the same. Individuals can also receive APL payments to help pay for legal counsel while the divorce is still pending. Learn more by speaking with one of our West Chester family lawyers. Contact us (610) 692-8700.
Serving Chester County & Beyond for Support Issues
Based in suburban Philadelphia at 304 North High Street, West Chester PA 19390, we make your choice all the clearer with locations throughout the metropolitan Philadelphia Pennsylvania, including Center City Philadelphia, West Chester PA, Malvern (serving Downingtown/Exton PA), Kennett Square PA, Lancaster PA, King of Prussia PA, Plymouth Meeting PA, Radnor and Springfield PA.
We serve Downingtown, Paoli, Media, Norristown, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading and Allentown. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania Support Attorney at Ciccarelli Lawyers, by contacting us at (610) 692-8700 or toll free at (877) 529-2422.