Both during and after the divorce process, difficult decisions must often be made regarding the custody and support of your minor children. Despite this, child support issues can arise even if the parents were never married. It is important to note that just because a parent does not have physical or legal custody of their child does not mean that he or she is not obligated to support that child. We understand that it is not always easy to work out child support arrangements, especially when one parent has greater custodial rights than the other.
How is child support calculated?
In determining child support, the court first looks at the net monthly incomes of both parties. The court then utilizes a formula and applies the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines, which are primarily based on the total of the parties’ net incomes and the number of children in the family. When it is determined that child support is owed, there is a presumption that the amount specified by the guidelines and formula is the amount owed, but this presumption is rebuttable. Though there is a set formula to decide child support, there are several deviation factors possible in child support calculations. Additionally, when the combined monthly income of the spouses exceeds $30,000, the guidelines and formula no longer apply and a different methodology is employed. Our attorneys are familiar with the guidelines and deviations and can help you understand how your specific circumstances may affect the child support obligation in your case.
Can a child support obligation be modified?
Child support orders can always be revisited at a later date if there is a significant change in circumstances. The following have been accepted as a change in circumstance warranting a modification of child support:
- Decrease or increase in the obligor’s (the person who is paying) income;
- Decrease or increase in the obligee’s (the person who is receiving the support) income;
- Obligor’s retirement;
- A change in custody;
- Increase in the obligor’s expenses; and
- Increase or decrease in the obligee’s expenses.
It is important to note that a voluntary reduction in income may not constitute a changed circumstance warranting a reduction in one’s child support obligation. Instead, the court will look to a party’s prior earning capacity when circumstances indicate that he or she has voluntarily reduced his or her income by terminating employment or by purposefully seeking out a lower paying job.