The child support issue arises during a Divorce or when the parents are not married and the custodial mother wants to seek child support from the child’s father. Paternity may be an issue if the parents are not married and the child’s father is not listed on the child’s Birth Certificate. Child support in Pennsylvania is governed by the statewide guideline established by general rule by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court: Rule 1910.16-1 et seq. The calculation of the child support is not very straight-forward using the guidelines and formulas in Pennsylvania. Depending on the assets and liabilities, income levels of the parties, unusual needs and expenses, and other considerations, the parents can agree to opt out of these guideline amounts, but the deviation from the standard support amount must be justified in writing or on the record, and accepted by the court.
Other child support considerations include:
- Other support obligations of the parties.
- Other household income.
- Ages of the children.
- Medical expenses not covered by insurance and Special Needs Children.
- Standard of living of the parties and their children.
- The best interests of children.
- Private schools tuition and fees, including religious schools.
- Specific schooling needs and programs for the children.
- Activities and hobbies for the children, including summer camp.
- Childcare or after-school care for the children so that the custodial parent can work.
- Maintaining health insurance benefits for the children.
- Allocation of unreimbursed health care expenses.
If there is no settlement agreement regarding child support, the court will issue a child support order in divorce proceedings or child support petitions as applicable. If the noncustodial parent fails to pay child support obligations, a violation petition is brought in court to compel the payment, including possibly garnishing the wages and seize bank accounts or tax refunds. In extreme cases of non-payment, the non-paying parent may lose his or her driver’s license or professional and business licenses, and may even be jailed for contempt of court.
Modification of Child Support Agreements and Orders
After the child support amount is determined by the parties or the court, it may be modified if there is sufficient legal basis to do so. Frequent causes for the temporary or permanent downward modification of the child support in the Separation and Settlement Agreement or court order are: changed residential custody of the child, changed needs of the child, involuntary and significant reductions in income of the paying parent or increase in income of the receiving parent, loss of work and being unable to find new employment, and other legal support obligations. It does not automatically follow that a person with circumstances changed for the worse is entitled to a downward modification: he or she must bring a petition and prove to the court that a modification is warranted under the circumstances because of a material, substantial, and involuntary change in income. If the paying parent’s income actually increased, the custodial parent may bring a petition for an upward modification of the child support.
If any modification petition is granted, it is effective retroactively to the filing date of the petition in court. However, if the court entered a child support order, agreeing to a modification of the child support amount with the receiving parent (often verbally) is a violation of the support order if there is no modification petition. All of the money the paying parent does not pay now can be demanded from that parent later, and the parent would have missed the opportunity to file the modification petition. This means that the child support up to the date of filing the petition remains the same and can be collected from the paying parent by the receiving parent.
The Law Offices of Leo Mikityanskiy represents clients in matters concerning paying or receiving child support and modifications of support orders and agreements in Bucks County and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Contact experienced Bucks County, PA Family Law attorney Leonid Mikityanskiy at our Feasterville, PA office at (215) 357-1400 to discuss your child support issues today.
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