Child Support FAQ

Can a Pennsylvania resident spouse file for child support when they have two children from their marriage, while their partner has left the marital home and moved to a separate apartment, even if both parties have equal incomes?

Yes. The complaint would be filed in the local Domestic Relations Office. 

What will happen once that complaint is filed?

Domestic Relations will hold a meeting in their office. The court will order both parties to appear before a conference officer. Both parties must show proof of income, such as pay stubs and the most recent federal tax return.

Once this information is presented, how will the child support be determined?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has established statewide guidelines for the administration of all support proceedings. Child support is calculated using income-sharing-based support criteria. Every four years, these guidelines are reviewed and revised. The most recent modification was made on August 3, 2017. The conference officer will determine each party’s net income after each party has provided its documents. After calculating the net incomes, the conference officer will add the parties’ net incomes, check the guidelines chart, and determine the monthly support amount needed to raise that child. Following that, the person residing outside of the residence will pay a proportionate share of the amount stated in the chart. That party’s proportional share is determined by dividing his or her net income by the total combined income of both parties.

Do the support guidelines address child care in Pennsylvania?

Yes. In addition to monthly child support, the party residing outside the marital home will be responsible for paying a proportionate amount of the parties’ total combined income toward appropriate child care expenses. According to newly amended criteria, if the party who lives outside the marital home has child care expenses when the children spend time with them, that party may offset those expenses with those of the party who submits the complaint. Child care expenses will be reduced by any amount of federal child tax credit available to the eligible parent, whether or not that parent claims the credit.

Are there any other items that could be included on a child support order?

Yes. A child support order may also include payments for health insurance, unreimbursed medical bills, private school and tuition, and mortgage payments on the marital residence. If a child support order is issued, the party who holds the order is responsible for the first $250 in unreimbursed medical costs for each kid that are not covered by health insurance each year. After the initial $250 is spent, the remaining sums owed on outstanding medical expenses will be divided based on the parties’ net earnings. People who pay for health insurance are frequently entitled to a credit on their child support obligation. A significant increase in child support may be justified if the marital home has a very substantial mortgage payment. An extremely costly mortgage is one in which the party residing in the marital residence with the children has a payment that surpasses 25% of that person’s income, including salaries and all child support paid.

What if the party paying support has other children?

Under the guidelines, all children are treated equally. When there are children in different households, it is vital to determine who is liable for paying child support. If the total amount of child support owed exceeds 50% of the responsible party’s income, each order will be amended to ensure that no more than 50% is issued.

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