Factors That Influence Child Support Obligations in Pennsylvania
According to a 2017 study by the USDA, the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is $233,610. When you and your spouse divorce, the court will issue a child support order to make certain that any children from your marriage receive the financial support they need to thrive. An experienced child support attorney can help you through the process, making certain that the child support order is fair to both parties.
The Basic Amount
The court determines the base level of child support by looking at your net income and your spouse’s. For calculation purposes, the two incomes are combined. Then, the court calculates the percentage of income each person contributes. Those percentages are matched to the Basic Child Support Obligation Guidelines found in the Pennsylvania state code. If you are looking at a situation with one spouse having full custody of a single child, this may be the only necessary calculation. In other situations, several factors will come into play.
Number of Children
If there is more than one child covered by the child support order, the calculation formula will be different. Simply put, it costs more money to raise more children. In Pennsylvania, child support payments end when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever takes place last. Eventually, children will age out of child support, reducing the amount paid.
Typically, child support is awarded to the spouse with primary custody since that person bears the brunt of the child-raising expenses. Partial custody arrangements can change the child support order. If a child spends more than 40% of his or her time with a parent, that parent will receive a reduction in payments. If the parents decide on a joint custody arrangement, the parent with the higher income will pay support to the other parent at a reduced rate.
If you are paying alimony to your spouse, this will factor into the child support calculation. Alimony payments are considered income for the spouse who receives them. The extra money changes the percentage in the net income calculation. If the spouse who pays alimony also pays child support, it will reduce the amount of child support. The person who has primary custody of the children will always be the one getting child support, even if he or she has a higher income. If the custodial parent has a higher income, he or she might pay alimony while at the same time receiving child support.
Additional Expenses and Special Circumstances
Every child is different, and every parenting plan is unique. The expenses that are common to most children are assumed to be covered by the child support agreement. These days, many children participate in sports, music and other hobbies. The custodial parent is expected to pay for enrollment fees and equipment. However, if a child participates in an expensive dance training program or enrolls in a private school, the tuition may be part of the child support order. In most cases, it is expected that the custodial parent will work to maintain his or her income. However, the cost of regular child care can create a financial burden. The need for child care will increase the amount of child support.
Getting on the Same Page
Many things can change during the time it takes to raise a child. You or your spouse may have a dramatic change in income for good or for bad. Your child may have the opportunity to go to an elite high school or need special instruction. The custody plan for children might change if your job requires you to move. The child support order that was put into place when your children were young may no longer be equitable. If you’re dealing with any of these issues, a consultation with a child support attorney can help you bring things back into balance. Contact Joanne Kleiner & Associates in Jenkintown by calling (215) 886-1266. We can help you deal with child support issues in Pennsylvania.