In the state of Pennsylvania, both parents are expected to provide support for their child until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens later, unless the court orders otherwise. Because it is assumed that the parent with whom the child lives (the custodial parent) is financially responsible for the child by virtue of providing shelter, food, clothing, and more, they receive child support from the noncustodial parent. Child support is required regardless of whether a child’s parents were ever married, though if the parents weren’t married when the child was born, paternity needs to be established. It is important to note that child support can be paid to whoever has custody of the child, and that this may include grandparents or relatives. If you are in need of legal representation to ensure that you receive the appropriate child support payment, contact the Philadelphia law firm of Smith & Horwitz. We are a compassionate family law practice with extensive experience in representing parents seeking guidance on child support issues.
Child support is administered by the Office of Domestic Relations and is meant to be determined by a simple and pre-established formula set forth in the Pennsylvania Support guidelines. The guidelines take each party’s income into consideration, as well as specific deductions and the number of children involved, and using these numbers a specific figure is suggested as the appropriate support amount. Parents can negotiate from this point based upon expenses, particular needs, and the amount of custody that each parent has, and if a support order is entered that either parent disagrees with, an appeal can be filed. Further, modifications and reviews can be requested based upon changes in circumstance, which may include changes in either parent’s income or expenses, a job loss due to being laid off, downsized or a company closing, a child’s increased medical expenses, or changes in daycare or insurance needs, costs of living based upon geographic location, and other factors.
When a parent is ordered to pay a specific amount of child support and they do not comply with the order, they are held in contempt and can be fined, jailed, or both. Penalties may e assessed and in extreme cases, the court can suspend a non-compliant parent’s business or occupational license. In most cases in Pennsylvania, support payments, as well as arrears and support related fees, are deducted directly from the parent’s paycheck through an income withholding order.
Though the state tries to create an equitable and straightforward child support process, there are many times when income levels exceed those addressed by the guidelines, or where parents are arguing over expenses. In these cases, the court expects that parents will come to a reasonable agreement based upon what is reasonable and the relative assets and standard of living of the parents. The attorneys at the family law practice of Smith & Horwitz are highly qualified to assist families to address the various issues that arise while discussing child support. Call us today for help obtaining a fair order in your case.