Understanding Child Support In Pennsylvania
For many couples in Pennsylvania, the decision to get married comes from a place of wanting to merge finances, become a team, and raise a child. While for some couples this decision and its ramifications lead to a happy and healthy life together, for others the situation sours and spouses decide to file for divorce.
For couples with children, the responsibility to provide for their offspring does not end when the divorce papers are signed. Like many states, Pennsylvania law outlines specific mandated procedures parents must follow when arranging for child support following a divorce.
In most cases, child support payments are arranged so that the parent who takes care of the child the most (the “custodial parent”) receives payments from the parent with less parenting time (the “noncustodial parent”). Pennsylvania law structures this system under the assumption that the custodial parent, previously identified and determined by the courts, has the financial resources available to make the child support payments.
The process for calculating, tracking, and enforcing child support payments is a complex process with many changing and intermingling parts. For parents planning a divorce, read on to discover the essential information regarding child support in Pennsylvania.
Calculating Pennsylvania Child Support
Typically, the Pennsylvania child support guidelines simply establish a fee schedule for the noncustodial parent, predetermined by the circumstances unique to the parents in the case. During divorce court proceedings, the judge can make adjustments to this fee schedule based on information obtained during the proceedings. Factors influencing this decision include:
- Atypical needs or specific prior obligations
- Additional sources of household income
- The age of the child
- The comparative assets and debts of each parent
- Medical expenses outside of insurance coverage
- Any additional factors influencing the best interest of the child
Working with an experienced divorce attorney early in the process can help parents understand and plan for what child support payments will look like in their specific situation.
Ending Child Support Payments
In Pennsylvania, parents are typically obligated to pay child support until the child turns 18. However, exceptions do exist. For example, if a child becomes emancipated, child support payments typically cease. Additionally, children with disabilities may be entitled to child support payments that extend beyond their 18th birthday, if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child.
Enforcing Child Support in Pennsylvania
The term “deadbeat” is sometimes used to characterize a parent who does not pay child support despite their court-ordered obligations. Pennsylvania law makes it clear that simply not being financially responsible or claiming insolvency does not relinquish parents from their child support obligations.
The Pennsylvania Child Support Program was created to assist parents who are having difficulty collecting child support payments. In addition, this organization publishes and disseminates a wealth of useful information for parents in all stages of the divorce and child support process.
Let Us Help You Today
As previously mentioned, employing the services of an experienced divorce attorney can help Pennsylvania parents feel at ease throughout the process. For over thirty years, the Media divorce attorneys at Barbara Flum Stein & Associates have been helping residents navigate the often complicated world of child support calculation and enforcement. Contact us today for a consultation.