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Child Support Guidelines For Pennsylvania Parents


In life, we encounter many milestones that require us to learn new concepts and develop a sense of how particular aspects of our society operate.  While some of these milestones are positive (e.g. marriage, the birth of a child), others such as divorce can be stressful and complicated for the uninformed.

When the divorcing couple has a child, the situation can take on another layer of complexity.  This is often due to the need for child support payments to be arranged, in order to provide the child the same, or close to the same, quality of life that they experienced while their parents were married.

Pennsylvania law structures the process of applying and determining child support.  Similar to many other states, this typically takes the form of the parent who has more allocated time with the child (known as the custodial parent) receiving payments from the parent with less allocated time (known as the non-custodial parent).

However, as with many things in life, the process is not quite as simple as determining who is the custodial and non-custodial parent in a divorce. Questions divorcing couples tend to ask their divorce attorney typically include:

  • How do I estimate child support in Pennsylvania?
  • How is child support collected and enforced in Pennsylvania?
  • Who pays taxes on child support in Pennsylvania?

These are important questions that need to be understood and addressed throughout divorce proceedings.  While your divorce attorney will be your key point of contact during this time, this article can be considered a primer for parents on child support guidelines in Pennsylvania.

How Do I Estimate Child Support in Pennsylvania? 

Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services has created a child support estimator that parents can use to help develop an idea of the amount and structure of child support payments in their case.  In order to use this tool, parents will need both of the spouse’s gross incomes, tax status, alimony situation, current and future childcare costs, and medical insurance coverage for the child.

How is Child Support Collected and Enforced in Pennsylvania? 

Collecting child support can take many different forms, depending on what works best for the parents’ individual situation.  Cash, check, direct deposit, and even third-party payment systems such as Venmo or Zelle can be used to collect child support payments.

When payments aren’t being made, custodial parents can enlist help from the state to track down the non-custodial parent and ensure payment resumes.  The Pennsylvania Child Support Program exists to help custodial parents ensure timely receipt of payments.

Who Pays Taxes on Child Support in Pennsylvania? 

In Pennsylvania, the parent receiving child support doesn’t need to consider it as income when filing for taxes, because technically these payments belong to the child.  Unfortunately, there is no tax credit for paying child support.

If a parent fails to pay child support, these payments can be automatically garnished from his or her tax refund each year.  While there is a child dependent deduction on taxes, typically the court orders parents to share this deduction by claiming it on alternating years.

Professional Legal Guidance 

As previously mentioned, a competent Media divorce attorney will be your guide throughout this process. Contact Barbara Flum Stein & Associates today for counsel, targeted to your situation.


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