Child support is closely related to the topic of custody. Whether you are the one paying or receiving support, it can be reassuring to know that there is a methodology to how support is calculated, potentially saving you anxiety about how this will affect your budget.
Child support is mandated when one parent or custodian has custody for more than 50% of the time (in a 50/50 split, the parent with the larger income may still be required to pay some child support). The parent or custodian with less custodial time will pay support based on a formula by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, which looks at two primary factors: the number of children, and the parties’ combined monthly income (the court also considers future possible earnings, based on education level, experience, and other factors).
(One exception occurs where the parent with partial custody has the children between 40-50% of overnights; the support they owe may qualify for a reduction.)
Support includes a monthly monetary obligation and may also involve healthcare coverage. You can request support through your county’s Domestic Relations Section; their staff will help you submit the petition.
Requesting an increase in support is done the same way; however, you will have to demonstrate a “significant change in circumstances” (such as a loss of employment, the other parent receiving a significant raise or significantly increased expenses for the children) to get it.
Child support will last until your child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever happens later. Until then, you are not able to agree to waive a support order, as the support is about the children, not the adults. Because of this, if the other parent stops providing support, you should notify your county’s Domestic Relations Section, who will enforce the order. (If it is still not resolved and goes to court, the other parent can be held in contempt, including up to six months in jail if they remain in contempt.)
While the non-custodial parent is required to pay support, they do not have the right to monitor how the money is spent. The courts assume that any money provided through support is directly or indirectly used for the children's housing, utilities, food and other essential needs.
Generally speaking, however, custodial rights and child support are treated as two separate issues by the courts, where support payments can’t be used to get more custodial rights, and on the other side, a parent who doesn’t pay their share of child support can’t be punished with reduced custodial rights.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Our child support lawyers can provide telephone or in-person advice for child support, including advice on the law as it applies to your case and guidance about evidence and procedures. However, we don’t have resources to assist in court, except in rare circumstances where an extraordinary factual or legal issue requires our help.
While your local Domestic Relations Section does not provide legal advice or representation, they have staff designated to provide administrative and enforcement support to guide you through the process.
THE COUNTY COURT PROCESS
Child support forms can be obtained and filed at the Domestic Relations Section located at the Public Service Building, 22 East Main Street, Uniontown, PA. Upon filing, a support hearing officer will be assigned. For local rules, go to www.co.fayette.pa.us
Child support forms can be obtained and filed at the Domestic Relations Section located at the Fort Jackson Building, 19 South Washington Street, Waynesburg, PA. Upon filing, a support hearing officer will be assigned. If no agreement is reached and a hearing is requested, a Judge will hold a hearing. Requests to modify an order issued within the last 6 months must be made by motion to court, showing a substantial change of circumstances. For local rules, go to www.co.greene.pa.us.
Child support forms can be obtained and filed at the Domestic Relations Section located at 300 North Center Avenue, Suite 200, Somerset, PA. For local rules, go to www.co.somerset.pa.us.
Child support forms can be obtained and filed at the Domestic Relations Section located at the Family Court Center, 29 West Cherry Avenue, Washington, PA. Upon filing, a support conference officer will be assigned for a conference, after which a recommended order will be issued if no agreement is reached. Each party will be able to request a hearing with a Support Hearing Officer after receiving that recommended order. If a party disagrees with the recommended order after the hearing, an argument can be requested before the assigned Judge. Requests to modify an order issued within the last 6 months must be made by motion to court, showing a substantial change of circumstances. For local rules, go to www.washingtoncourts.us.
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