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How Child Support is Calculated in Pennsylvania

How Child Support

If you have filed for divorce or have been served with a divorce complaint and there are minor children in the home, one of your first questions will involve child support. Under what circumstances will the court order the payment of child support, who will be required to pay, and how is child support calculated?

Who Pays Child Support?

In Pennsylvania, the parent of a child can request an order of support, whether or not a divorce complaint has been filed, and whether or not the parents were ever married. The support order typically follows on the heels of a custody order. If the court grants physical custody to one of the parents, that parent becomes entitled to support payments. In situations where the parents are not married, the court may require a paternity test before ordering support. It’s important to understand that you can be ordered to pay support, even if you are unemployed, provided you are the non-custodial parent. In addition, it doesn’t matter if the custodial parent makes more money than the non-custodial parent. Child support is intended to ensure that both parents contribute to the financial needs of the child.

The Calculation of Child Support

Either or both parents may be ordered to pay child support, with the court considering the following factors when determining the amount of support:

  • The net income of each parent
  • The earning capacity of each parent
  • The assets of each parent
  • Any unusual needs of the parent or child
  • Any extraordinary expenses

Contact the Law Office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates

For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266. Let us use our experience, skill, knowledge and resources to help you make informed and effective decisions.

How Does Equitable Distribution Work in Pennsylvania?

Equitable Distribution

In Pennsylvania, in a divorce proceeding, the principle of equitable distribution applies to the allocation of all debts and assets accumulated during the marriage. You and your spouse may amicably work out a property settlement, but the court will still have the authority to review that agreement and revise or reject it if there is any perception of duress, undue influence or misrepresentation.

The first thing to understand about equitable distribution is that the word "equitable" means "fair," not equal. As a practical matter, dividing the debts and assets equally may be the fair way to settle the marital estate, but the court has latitude to deviate from that approach, based on a number of factors, including:

  • How long the parties were married
  • Whether or not either party was previously married
  • The age, health, station in life, sources of income, employability, vocational skills and other needs of each party
  • Any contribution either party made to the other’s education, training or increased earning power
  • Value of any property set apart to each party
  • The standard of living to which the parties were accustomed during marriage
  • The involvement of both parties in building or dissipating marital assets

Whether one of the parties will have physical custody of minor children

It’s also important to know that Pennsylvania characterizes property as either marital property or separate property. Separate property is generally property brought into the marriage by a party, acquired by gift or inheritance, excluded in a valid prenuptial agreement, or acquired after separation. For purposes of equitable distribution, separate property is excluded.

Contact Attorney Joanne E. Kleiner

Let us help you protect your rights. Contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266 to schedule a confidential consultation. We will help you stay focused on the issues that matter.

The Impact of a Custody Battle

custody visitation

Many parents who contest a court’s custody ruling, or who engage in long and protracted proceedings to establish custody and visitation arrangement will tell you that they are doing it “for the benefit of the children.” There are certainly instances where one parent must do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe outcome for children—if there’s domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, for example. In most cases, though, their actions are ultimately counterproductive, draining precious resources that could be better spent on the children or on improving their lives.

Here are the most frequent consequences of an unnecessary custody battle:

  • One or both parties spend money they can’t afford to spend—It may be money that would be used to buy clothes and food, to live in a better house, or to fund a child’s college education. Attorney’s fees can be substantial, even if the skirmish is short-lived.
  • The tension and conflict between the parties increases—When you are on opposite sides of an argument, it’s hard to find ways to agree…which is often in the best interests of your children. Not only will it have an impact on your health—medical professionals have long known that stress and anxiety are bad for you—but your kids will be well aware of what’s going on and will feel in the middle (or even to blame).
  • Co-parenting becomes difficult or impossible—Even if the issues you need to resolve involve only your children, it will be hard not to inject some of your dispute or animosity with your ex into the process. In the aftermath of divorce, your children need stability and consistency—a custody battle makes those objectives difficult to attain.
  • Your children will suffer—If you and your ex are taking side, your children will feel compelled to as well. They love both of you, so they’ll struggle to make both of you happy—an unattainable goal.

Contact the Law Office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates

For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266. Let us use our experience, skill, knowledge and resources to help you make informed and effective decisions.

Divorce Mediation in Pennsylvania

Divorce Mediation

If your marriage has ended and divorce is the only option, you may still want to find a way to resolve your differences amicably, rather than incurring the time and expense of protracted litigation. You may want to consider mediation as an alternative. Here’s how the process works.

With mediation, the parties agree to pay a third-party neutral to help identify and settle any disputes involving child custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and the equitable distribution of property. As a neutral, the mediator is charged with helping you and your ex come up with mutually beneficial ways to resolve your differences. Unlike a proceeding in court, mediation generally does not involve testimony from witnesses or then introduction of any evidence. Furthermore, the mediator won’t make any decisions for you, and won’t issue any rulings. Instead the mediator will try to facilitate a dialogue between you and your ex-spouse, so that the two of you iron out all the details.

There are a number of advantages to mediation over litigation. First, it’s usually less expensive and takes far less time to complete. Typically, you’ll share the cost of a mediator. Most divorce mediations can be completed in one or two sessions, and you won’t have to try to get on the court’s docket. Furthermore, because the mediator will not make any rulings on evidence or testimony, you don’t need to go through a lengthy discovery process before mediation.

Another benefit to mediation—you actually get to participate in the decision-making. Instead of depending on a judge or jury to make a ruling, you can propose solutions, reject offers from your spouse and be actively engaged in fashioning the outcome.

Finally, mediation can allow you to finalize matters without bitterness or acrimony, an important matter if you have minor children and need to maintain a long-term relationship with your ex.

Contact the Law Office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates

For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266. Let us use our experience, skill, knowledge and resources to help you make informed and effective decisions.

Montgomery County Bar Association
Pennsylvania Bar Association
International Academy of Collaborative Professionals