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How child support is determined in Pennsylvania

Child support payments are determined by a Pennsylvania court after taking into consideration a variety of factors. In some cases, one parent will be ordered to pay child support while in others, both parents might be ordered to pay if the child is not in their custody.

Generally, child support payments are made by the non-custodial parent until the child is 18 or until the child graduates high school. The payments might go on for longer if the child has certain physical or mental disabilities. Even if non-custodial parents are not working, they might be ordered to pay support. The child support order includes monetary assistance for food, shelter and clothing as well as the payment of health insurance, child care, the costs for visitation travel, if applicable, as well as extracurricular activities. In some cases, it can include extraordinary medical costs.

The child support order might be established as part of a divorce or other civil family procedure. However, the most common way for the process to begin is when a parent completes the Application for Child Support and submits it to the local Domestic Relations office, which can locate non-custodial parents, establish paternity in cases where the child was born outside of marriage, and assist with collecting support as well as enforce a parent's obligation to pay support. To determine a support amount, a court will consider both parents' income, the costs of child care and medical insurance, the living arrangements of the child and any governmental benefits that a child might be receiving.

A judge usually reviews the child support order every four years, but parents can also request modifications if their situation changes. An attorney can describe how a modification of the order can be sought.

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