According to a report issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, there were over 36,000 divorces and annulments in Pennsylvania last year – with 1,785 occurring in Philadelphia County alone. And, while it is quite likely that those involved in these break-ups had good reason for their decisions to divorce, it is important to remember that divorces can often impact the lives of those around the splitting couple, particularly when children are involved.
For instance, issues of child support often need to be addressed in order to ensure the well-being of children following a Pennsylvania divorce. Indeed, under Pennsylvania law, it is expressly presumed that parents are liable for the support of any of their children who are “18 years of age or younger,” which is why child support is a major consideration in Pennsylvania divorces.
Determining Pennsylvania child support
Essentially, Pennsylvania child support payments are determined by using a set of fixed guidelines established by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Typically, support payments are based upon the “reasonable needs” of the child and the ability of the liable parent to pay such support – with particular emphasis on the incomes and earning capacities of the parties involved.
Ultimately, calculating the specific amount of child support can become quite complex in Pennsylvania, especially when the liable parent has hidden income or is self-employed.
Modifying Pennsylvania child support
Importantly, child support obligations may change over time. For example, under Pennsylvania law, either parent can request an automatic review of child support payments every three years. This review can result in an increase or decrease in child support obligations based upon cost-in-living adjustments or the guidelines – although the best interests of the child continue to be paramount.
Additionally, a significant change in circumstances may also necessitate a modification of Pennsylvania child support payments. Such changes in circumstances can include increases, or decreases, in the liable parent’s income. However, it is critical to note that a parent cannot voluntarily reduce his or her income in an attempt to dodge child support obligations, such as quitting a job or willingly assuming a lower-paying position.
Seek assistance for child support
Ultimately, given the complicated nature of establishing and modifying child support obligations in Pennsylvania, it is often best to consult with an experienced family law attorney if you are currently involved in a child support dispute. A knowledgeable attorney can assist in reviewing the finances of all parties involved and help ensure the clients are protected.