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Child Support Issues Under Pennsylvania Law

Sep 14, 2008
Child support, custody and visitation issues arise when parents are no longer living together. Under Pennsylvania law, resolving issues of child support, custody and visitation can be very complicated. In addition, the process of separation and divorce may be very painful, often involving great emotional stress, especially for the children involving. Adding in issues of support, custody and visitation only complicates matters further. That is why, when it comes time to resolve child support, custody and/or visitation issues, it is important to understand the legal issues confronting you and to hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate through the court system.

Child Support

Under Pennsylvania law, parents are obligated to support their children financially. Generally, the courts (usually called Family Court) do not resolve support issues unless one parent has left the family home. This non-custodial parent must, on a regular basis, contribute financially as if the family had remained intact.

Under Pennsylvania law, the amount of support owed is determined by a formula. In particular, Pennsylvania law, 23 Pa.C.S.A. 4322(a), provides that:

"Child and spousal support shall be awarded pursuant to a Statewide guideline as established by general rule by the Supreme Court, so that persons similarly situated shall be treated similarly. The guideline shall be based upon the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In determining the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support, the guideline shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties, with allowable deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors, such as the parties' assets, as warrant special attention. The guideline so developed shall be reviewed at least once every four years."

These Guidelines are contained in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure in "Chapter 1910 - Actions for Support." Under the Guidelines, Courts will consider many factors when calculating the amount of support owed, including the non-custodial parent's income, the number of children involved, the child's living expenses, as well as the child's needs. If the non-custodial parent becomes delinquent on his or her payments, legal action can compel payment.

Rule 1910.16-1 ("Amount of Support. Support Guidelines") explains that the support guidelines specify the amount of support that a spouse or parent should pay based upon both parties' net monthly incomes as defined in Rule 1910.16-2 and the number of persons being supported. The Rules also contain examples of how child support is calculated.

For example, in "Example 1," the Mother and Father have three children and do not live in the same household. The mother has primary custody of two children; the third child is in foster care. The mother's net income is $1,500 per month, the father's is $3,000. Pursuant to the schedule at Rule 1910.16-3, the basic child support amount for the two children with the mother is $1,216. Because the father's income is 67 percent of the parties' combined monthly net income, his basic support obligation is $815 per month.

The Rules contain numerous other examples, but they all demonstrate that courts must consider many factors when determining how much child support is owed, and who must pay how much. In many cases, an experienced attorney will know the nuances of the law and be able to use them to assure that his or client pays only what he or she can afford to pay, no more and no less. Also, because circumstances change, the lawyer will know when to go back to court to revise the amount of support his or her client owes.

In sum, child support issues may be straightforward or very complicated. Regardless, the Family Court system in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania can be very complicated and very frustrating. That is why it is important to hire a lawyer who knows that system and knows how to get the best results for every client.

This handy Pennsylvania child support/family law tip is provided by the Philadelphia immigration and family law office of Attorney Samuel B. Alboum, Suite 1200, 1315 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Phone (215) 546-3820, www.samalboulaw.com, Email sam@samalboumlaw.com.
About the Author
Philadelphia immigration and family law attorney Samuel Alboum has been representing individuals and families for nearly two decades. Sam Alboum concentrates his practice in immigration and family law matters. His office is located at 1315 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, (215) 546-3820. Email Attorney Sam Alboum (sam@samalboumlaw.com) or Visit Attorney Sam Alboum's website.
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