Pennsylvania law establishes guidelines for child support payments. When a couple divorces or has a child together outside of marriage, both parents have a legal responsibility to provide financial support.
When considering divorce, understand the factors state courts use to determine child support.
Calculating combined net income
First, the court will review the combined net income of both parents. This calculation includes all income sources minus alimony, mandatory union dues and taxes. The court compares the resulting number to the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines table to arrive at a monthly support amount. For example, when parents have a net combined monthly income of $6,000, the guidelines determine average spending of $1,065 a month for one child and $1,532 a month for two children.
Adjusting for family circumstances
Returning to the example above, the court will allocate the amount from the guidelines table based on the parents’ income. If the couple has one child and they each earn $3,000, the noncustodial parent would pay half of $1,065, or $532.50.
After arriving at the monthly support amount, the court will adjust for:
- Unreimbursed medical costs for the child of more than $250
- Health insurance premium costs
- The cost of day care, summer camp or private school
Keep in mind that while guidelines provide a starting point, parents can ask the court to deviate from the guidelines where appropriate. In this case, the judge must consider:
- The child’s best interests
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living the child enjoyed when the parents lived together
- Unusual medical expenses
- Each parent’s assets and debts
- The age of the child or children
- Whether either parent’s household has a second income
- Whether either parent pays other support obligations
- Whether the child has exceptional needs such as special education
When preparing to negotiate child support, parents may present information regarding circumstances that affect the cost of raising the child.