PennsylvaniaChild Support Laws
Pennsylvania Child Support Guide :: Table of Contents
Child support is an ongoing payment by a non-custodial parent to assist with the financial support of their children. Child support payments are often determined during the process of dissolution of a marriage through divorce, though the only requirements for requesting child support payments are establishment of paternity and maternity.
Child support is handled on a state level, and Pennsylvania has a set of specific child support guidelines. On this page you can learn about how child support is calculated in Pennsylvania, how custody split and extraordinary costs affect child support payments, and more.
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Pennsylvania uses the "income share" method for calculating child support payments, which is designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child's upkeep.
Pennsylvania's child support formula directly accounts for parents who share custody of a child, and support payment amounts are connected to the custody split. Other special situations accounted for under Pennsylvania's child support law include childcare costs and extraordinary medical costs. These costs may be additions to the basic Pennsylvania child support order.
Where Could I Reference the Maximum Amount for Child Support?The maximum amount of any attachment for child and medical support is set forth by the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act.
What Happens in Cases where One Party has No or Minimal Income?In cases where the obligor is paying the cost of health insurance and the obligee has no, or minimal income that the obligor will be responsible for 90% or more of the share of the cost of health insurance premiums, the trier of fact may, as fairness requires, deduct part or all of the cost of the premiums paid by the obligor to provide for the other party or the children from the obligor’s gross income to determine the net income for support purposes.
A party’s payment to provide health insurance coverage on behalf of the other party and/or the children will be distributed between the parties in proportion to their net incomes, including a portion of the premium attributable to the party who is paying it, as long as a statutory duty of support is owed to the party who is paying.
If the obligee is providing the coverage, the reasonable amount of the share will be defined as an amount that does not exceed 5% of the obligor’s net monthly income and, when added to the amount of basic child support plus additional expenses the obligor is ordered to pay, does not exceed 50% of the obligor’s net monthly income.
Child support can be arranged out of court by a mutual support agreement between the parents, or can be decided in Pennsylvania family court through a child support order. In Pennsylvania, a number of factors are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid in court. Here is an explanation of the two most common methods used to calculate basic child support amounts.
Income Share Method
Under the income share model, the court uses economic tables to estimate the total monthly cost of raising the children. The non-custodial parent pays a percentage of the calculated cost that is based on their proportional share of both parents' combined income.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month, and the custodial parent has an income of $1,000 per month. The court estimates that the cost of raising one child is $1,000 a month. The non-custodial parent's income is 66.6% of the parent's total combined income. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $666 per month in child support, or 66.6% of the total child support obligation.
Percentage Of Income Method
This method of calculating child support is simple - a set percentage of the non-custodial parent's income is paid monthly to the custodial parent to cover basic child support expenses. The percentage paid may stay the same, or vary if the non-custodial parent's income changes.
Example: The non-custodial parent of one child has an income of $2,000 per month. The court orders a flat percentage of 25% of the non-custodial parent's income to be paid in child support to the custodial parent. Therefore, the non-custodial parent pays $500 per month in child support. If the non-custodial parent's monthly income changes, the dollar amount they pay in child support will change as well.
Pennsylvania Child Support FAQ
- How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Pennsylvania?
- How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Pennsylvania?
- How are child care costs treated by child support in Pennsylvania?
- Does child support cover college education expenses in Pennsylvania?
- How is child support enforced in Pennsylvania?
- What are child support arrears?
- How are child support payments taxed in Pennsylvania?
How does having shared custody of the child affect child support in Pennsylvania?
All states have a method of modifying the amount of child support owed in cases where the custody agreement provides for joint or shared custody of a child between both parents.
Pennsylvania law accounts for shared custody of a child directly in the child support formula used to calculate payment amounts. This means that, in cases where custody is shared, the amount of child support paid by the paying parent will be reduced according to the amount of time they have custody of the child.
How are extraordinary medical costs treated by child support in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania has specialized guidelines for the sharing of a child's extraordinary medical care costs that are separate from, and in addition to, basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally costs generated by things such as illness, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
Pennsylvania treats extraordinary medical care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
How are child care costs treated by child support in Pennsylvania?
Due to the high costs of child care for a single payment, Pennsylvania has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments.
Pennsylvania treats child care costs as a "mandatory deduction" for basic child support. This means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner's monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
Does child support cover college education expenses in Pennsylvania?
While the state of Pennsylvania has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, support for college expense by the non-custodial parent may be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, after which it is contractually enforceable.
How is child support enforced in Pennsylvania?
In the state of Pennsylvania, child support is enforced by the state child support agency. The state agency handles the location of non-custodial parents, enforcement of support orders, and the handling of unpaid child support arrears.
What are child support arrears?
Child support arrears are the amount of child support that is delinquent, or unpaid, by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. Child support arrears may be collected by the state through wage garnishment, bank levy. withholding of Pennsylvania welfare benefits, or other collection methods.
How are child support payments taxed in Pennsylvania?
Under IRS guidelines, the recepient of child support does not need to pay federal tax on child support payments, and the payer of child support cannot deduct their child support payments. This differs from the federal taxation of alimony payments, which are treated as taxable income by the receiver and are deductible by the payor. Pennsylvania tax law may vary on tax treatment of child support.