Pennsylvania Child Support
A child has the right to emotional and financial support from both parents. One parent should never have the financial burden alone to support a child. If both parents and the child or children do not live together, the court will order child support. Many different scenarios can make the process complicated, but with the help of a child support lawyer in Allegheny County, you can make sure that child support is ordered and that what is ordered is fair and in accordance with the law.
At Raver Rawlings & Parker, we know the law and how to handle these delicate types of cases. Whether you seek child support or want to challenge it, our child support attorney will provide thorough advice and handle all aspects of the case while keeping you informed. To learn more about child support and your options regarding it and your unique situation, contact us online or at 412-712-0011.
What is Child Support in Pittsburgh?
Child support is a way to ensure that both parents, although no longer in a relationship with one another, are financially responsible for their children while taking into consideration their ability to provide support. In most cases, child support lasts until children turn 18 years of age and have graduated from high school. There are exceptions, including when a child is disabled.
In Pennsylvania, child support is formulaic. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sets child support guidelines so that similarly situated families have consistent results. While the approach is formulaic, various inputs require knowledge of the state and local rules to achieve a fair result. In addition to child support, parents in Pittsburgh may receive assistance paying for childcare expenses, medical insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical expenses, school tuition, extra-curricular activity expenses, and other child-related costs.
Some of the most common factors considered in a child support analysis include:
- The gross income (or cash available for support, in some circumstances) earned by each parent
- The number of children each parent is responsible for supporting
- How much time the children under the order spend with each parent
- Child care expenses
- The cost of health insurance for the child
- Whether the child suffers from any disability that requires extra expenses
- Whether either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed
The court will also consider any factors that it considers relevant and impact the parties' ability to pay child support.
Determining the appropriate amount of child support, and the appropriate division of additional expenses, can be complicated. In Pennsylvania, child support is meant to be a cash flow analysis in cases not involving business owners. In other words, the court is looking to determine each parent's ability to pay support, regardless of whether the earnings are legitimate or illegitimate, and taxable or non-taxable. In its net income calculation, the court will take a party's gross earnings and deduct only mandatory deductions, such as taxes, union dues, and mantory retirement contributions. Common deductions, such as voluntary retirement account contributions, are added back to a party's net monthly income so that parents cannot manipulate their earnings to avoid a support obligation. Once the court determines both parties' net monthly incomes, it will add them together, find the appropriate amount of support, based on the number of children in the household, and divide that support amount pursuant to each parent's pro rata share of the household income. For example, if Mother has net monthly income of $6,000 and Father has net monthly income of $4,000, the court will add the earnings together ($10,000) and apply that to the number of children for whom support is sought. Then, the court will divide the Guidelines support amount pursuant to each parent's percentage of the "household" earnings -- in this example, Mother would owe 60% of the Guidelines amount of support because she earns 60% of the "household" income.
In addition, the partes' custody schedule can impact child support. Once a parent has 40% of the overnights with the child or children, that parent is entitled to a reduction in child support. If the parties share physical custody, then a further reduction in support is warranted.
Failure to Pay Child Support in Pennsylvania
When child support is established, a payment schedule is also established. When the parent ordered to pay support fails to do so, there are options available to the parent (or custodian) receiving the support. Often times, requests for enforcement can be handled administratively through the Pennsylvania child support system.
Often times, the parent ordered to pay support can explain to the court why they have not made their payments. The court will consider the matter and enter an order. The order will often require a parent to make additional payments, or to find appropriate employment. In extreme circumstances, the court can order jail time for failure to pay child support. Even when jail time is ordered, the parent under the order can avoid it by paying a certain amount towards their debt as ordered by the court.
In some cases, remedies are available to ensure the child support is paid, such as intercepting income tax refunds or seizing bank accounts.
Why Hire a Family Law Lawyer in Pittsburgh
If you are seeking child support establishment or enforcement, an attorney can help you locate the non-custodial parent and determine their ability to pay. If you are being ordered to pay child support, an attorney can help you ensure the amount of the order is fair. Child support orders are not set in stone and may be modified when the circumstances warrant a change.
Contact a Child Support Attorney in Pennsylvania
Child support is necessary to make sure your child receives the things they need to grow and thrive in life. One parent should not bear the financial burden. Our child support lawyer at Raver Rawlings & Parker understands what is at stake and uses skill, knowledge, and resources to represent your rights. We also handle other issues alongside child support, like child custody and spousal support. Contact us today by using our online form or calling us directly at 412-712-0011 to schedule a consultation.