Under Pennsylvania law, both parents have an obligation to pay for the support of the children. When parents live together, there’s an assumption that both parents are providing material support. But when parents live apart, are legally separated, or are divorced, there is no such assumption. In those situations, the custodial parent can ask the court to order the noncustodial parent to pay child support. Kelly Family Law, PLLC helps parents get fair child support orders. Whether you would be paying or receiving, you have a significant financial interest in any dispute over child support. I provide pertinent advice and determined representation to help ensure the court makes its decision based on your true circumstances.
Parents are free to negotiate a child support agreement, but such an agreement is only enforceable if the court approves and issues an order. The court will only approve if the parents’ agreement does not disadvantage their children. The right to support, after all, is the child’s right. If parents cannot agree on support payments, they can bring the issue before the court. The parent requesting support files an Application for Child Support with the court. In deciding the issue, the judge applies the state guidelines to calculate basic support.
The commonwealth’s child support guidelines are based on the “income shares” model used by many states. The guidelines take into consideration many factors, including:
After arriving at a value for basic child support, the court has the discretion to deviate from that amount if doing so would be in the best interest of the child. To decide whether to deviate from the guideline amount, the court considers various factors, including:
If a judge does deviate from the guideline amount, he or she must state the reasons for the deviation in writing.
During this process, it’s important to have effective representation from an experienced family law attorney who can help ensure complete financial transparency and alert the court to any facts that could influence a decision to deviate one way or the other from the guideline amount.
There can be a number of reasons why you need to modify a child support order. Either parent might have experienced an involuntary decrease in their income since the original order was issued. The custodial arrangements for the child may have changed. The paying parent may have had another child. If you believe that the existing child support order is unfair, I can review your case and offer advice on a course of action that is appropriate to your individual circumstances. If the other parent is requesting a modification you are opposed to, I can help you defend your interests in court.
In most cases, a child support order stays in place until a child is 18 years old or graduates from high school. The support order can be extended if the child has special needs. If a parent fails to pay support, there are many enforcement tools available to the recipient parent on the state and federal level, including:
In most cases, obligor parents fail to pay support due to financial hardship. However, there are times when an obligor stops paying because of a dispute with the custodial parent, especially over parenting time. Withholding child support is never a winning strategy. A better course of action is to pay the support and petition the court to enforce the custody order. Timely advice from an experienced attorney can be very helpful in resolving these types of problems before they get worse.
Kelly Family Law, PLLC provides reliable counsel and staunch representation for parents on child support matters in Chester County and vicinity. My office is conveniently located at 674 Exton Commons, Exton, Pennsylvania. To schedule an appointment, call 484-899-9000 or contact my office online.