In Pennsylvania, child support is determined based on the child support guidelines. In general, the guidelines take the net incomes of both parents and determine their respective child support obligations based on a formula. Some things to know about child support:
- Child support is payable to the parent who has primary physical custody regardless of which parent makes the most money.
- If parents share custody equally, then the parent who has the lower income receives the child support.
- Child support is retroactive to the date of filing. Therefore, the sooner that you file the better.
- Child support is collected by wage attachment.
- The child support determined by the guidelines is a base child support amount. In addition to the base child support, parents will share responsibility for expenses such as health insurance premiums, day care and activity expenses in proportion to their incomes.
- If you owe child support and cannot pay or cannot pay the full amount, just do not do anything. Contact the Domestic Relations Office and let them know your situation. If you simply do not pay, you could find yourself charged with contempt.
- If you do not pay your child support, you could have your bank account seized, you could lose your driver's license, you could lose your professional license or you could have your passport frozen.
- You may be entitled to an adjustment to support if you pay the mortgage on a marital residence.
If you are married and separated and make less money than your spouse, you may be entitled to receive support. There are two types of support available to spouses: spousal support and alimony pendente lite (APL). Both spousal support and APL are calculated the same way, but there are differences in the requirements for each.
Spousal support is considered an entitlement. In other words, a dependent spouse (the spouse who makes less money) is entitled to receive spousal support if the parties are separated, even if no divorce action has been filed. There are some defenses to spousal support such as the dependent spouse left the marriage.
APL is available after a divorce complaint has been filed and is based on need. However, once need is shown, APL is calculated the same a spousal support.
Both spousal support and APL are calculated based on the same formula. If there are no children, spousal support/APL is 40% of the difference between the net incomes. If there are children, it is 30% of the difference between the net incomes after child support is deducted.
If you have questions about child support, spousal support or APL, please feel free to contact me. I would be glad to review your situation with you to determine if your support should be modified and what you can expect to pay or receive.