Two of the most important issues between divorcing or unmarried parents are child custody and child support. If one parent has primary custody rights, they can feel the financial effects of caring for children significantly more than the other parents. Pennsylvania law requires that both parents have the legal duty to financially support their children – whether they are married or whether or not they have custody rights. For this reason, many cases involve child support determinations and orders.
Determining Child Support Amounts
Child support is a monthly (or more frequent) amount paid from one parent to the other to help cover the costs of raising the child. This is not a random amount but instead a carefully calculated figure determined by using a specific formula set out in Pennsylvania law. This formula takes into account the respective custody rights of each parent, the income and expenses of each parent, any special needs of the child, and any other relevant factors.
While the child support formula is intended to result in a determination that is fair for everyone, some situations can have unique circumstances. This can result in an unfair order for one or both parents even though the formula was used. In such cases, an experienced child support attorney can appeal the child support amount to the court and the court has some discretion to alter the amount. In some cases involving one or more especially wealthy parents, the court may stray more significantly from the child support formula and make an award that is fair in light of the circumstances.
Changing Child Support Amounts
Even if a child support order seems fair and reasonable at the time of the initial determination, everyone knows that circumstances can change that can make an order unfair or inappropriate after some time. In order to have a child support order modified, you must petition the court and the petitioning parent must show they have experienced a substantial change in circumstances. This change must be material and long-lasting, as courts will typically not modify orders for temporary situations or minor changes. Some changes can include losing a job or the other parent gets a better job.
Call a PA child support attorney at (215) 515-8464 for more information.
If you are facing a child support case, you need an experienced PA attorney on your side. Please contact the Law Office of Smith & Horwitz as soon as possible so we can begin helping you today.