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