Law Office

Child Support

What is Child Support?

Child support differs from other forms of support, such as spousal support and alimony, in that it's not simply a payment made by one party to another.  Rather, the Court determines the total amount of appropriate financial support that a child requires and would have received, had the parents remained together.  This figure is then divided and assigned based on the financial means of each respective parent.  It's worth noting that you can receive support credit for any child expenses that you cover, such as tuition, insurance bills, and out-of-pocket costs.  

Most parents are surprised to find that the Support Court will not take into account his or her personal budget in determining a fair amount for support.  Support calculations are based on guidelines published by the legislature.  These guidelines take the combined income of the parties and then determine how much a couple, making what they make, should be spending on their child(ren).  Each parent is then responsible for his or her proportional share of that support amount.

What Happens If A Parent Doesn't Pay Support?

Parents who fail or refuse to pay support according to the terms of the controlling Support Order are subject to a variety of penalties, including:
- Automatic deductions from paychecks
-Seizure of bank accounts
-Revocation of professional licenses, driver's licenses, and passports
-Attachment of liens to real property, such as a home
-Seizure of tax refunds and or lottery or gambling winnings
-Up to six months of jail time

Parents who are delinquent in their support payments may also be Ordered by the Court to participate in community service programs or in job placement programs.

Non- paying or underpaying parents who are brought before a Judge on contempt will be asked to provide valid reasons for not meeting his or her financial obligations.  The Court will expect specific proof of any alleged disability or other issue preventing the parent from paying his or her support obligation. 

How Long Does Support Last?

Support lasts until the child in question has either turned 18 or graduated from high school - whichever comes later.  For example, if a child is forced to repeat a year, support continues until the end of his schooling, even past the age of 18.  On the flip side, a child who graduates early can still expect to receive support until the age of 18.  

Children with special needs may be entitled to support well into adulthood if it is determined that the child lacks the ability to support him or herself.

Although other states provide for support for college education, a parent in a Pennsylvania Child Support case cannot be obligated to pay support for a child in college unless they have agreed to do so as part of another agreement such as a property settlement agreement in divorce.