Understanding the Basics of Child Support Calculation in PA

Experiencing a divorce can be extremely stressful and overwhelming, especially when there are children involved. When parents separate, it can take a toll on the family, often affecting the children financially and emotionally. As a way to limit the amount of financial change that occurs as a result of a divorce in Pennsylvania, non-custodial parents are often ordered to pay child support.

Income shares model

Pennsylvania has adopted an income shares model of child support, which believes that children should receive the same amount of financial support from their parents that they would have if their parents had stayed together, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The amount of child support ordered is calculated by first determining each parent’s monthly gross income, including wages, bonuses, commissions, royalties, pensions, interest income, Social Security benefits and any other sources of income or assets. Any taxes, unemployment compensation taxes and F.I.C.A. payments are deducted from the gross income to find the parent’s total net income. The amount is then determined by matching the net income with the number of children being supported, which is located on the state’s basic child support schedule, according to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure.

Allowable adjustments may be taken into consideration depending on the specific details of each case, according to Pennsylvania legislation. These adjustments include health insurance, education expenses, un-reimbursed medical expenses, and child care. Child support payments are also dependent on the parenting schedule, as the custodial parent will pay a smaller amount than the non-custodial parent. An individual’s support obligation is then determined by taking the total child support amount and dividing that between the two parents based on factors such as the percentage of time spent with that parent and the parent’s percentage of the total support amount.

Child support enforcement

There are many parents who diligently support their children by making regular child support payments. However, there are also parents who are delinquent in financially supporting their children. People who fail to make their child support payments may have their wages withheld from their paychecks by the Department of Revenue Services. The DRS can also retrieve past due funds by confiscating federal and state tax refunds, lottery winnings and workers compensation benefits. Those who are three months past due may have their professional license suspended and will have the delinquency reported to all major credit bureaus.

People who are extremely negligent in making their court-ordered child support payments may be fined and receive up to two years of jail time. Parents who owe $5,000 or more in past due child support, and have not made any payments for at least one year may face charges.

How can an attorney help?

Since the divorce process is often filled with heated emotions, it may be hard to make critical decisions that will affect you and your child’s future. Having an attorney on your side looking out for your best interests will ensure that you make the best choices for your family.

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