How Is Child Support Calculated?

We understand that separated or divorcing parents may have concerns about child support. As a general rule, it costs more to maintain two houses than to maintain one home. This can seem particularly daunting for parents who stay home with their children and for parents who work full-time. It’s understandable to worry about whether and how you will maintain the same lifestyle for you and your child after a separation. If you are the dependent spouse and/or the custodial parent, you likely are entitled to receive support from your co-parent. The flip side of that is that if you have been the parent who has been the financial provider, you may owe support. Either way, we can help you navigate the child support process in Pennsylvania.

Among the questions that you need answers to are: How are spousal support and child support calculated? And how much support will you receive? Or, how much support will you have to pay? You have growing children who, it seems every day, have new and more expensive needs. Child-care expenses add up, so do health care costs. And do not forget the fees you must pay for after-school extracurricular activities as well as sports clubs and recreational activities.

States Subscribe to Different Formulas

Since 1992, states have had to follow child support guidelines implemented by the federal government. The Child Support Enforcement Act includes at least three formulas in coming up with the right amount of child support payments for families. Each state adopts one of them.

Pennsylvania is one of many states that subscribe to the “income shares model.” This formula relies on the idea that children must receive the same proportion of parental income as they would have gotten if the parents remained together. The initial calculation begins by determining the cost of raising a child in their respective area. Pennsylvania’s current table to determine support can be found here.

The state and courts then review the combined amount of income of both parents. By doing this, they can determine a basic child support obligation by referring to a statutory table as a general guideline. When adding child-care and medical expenses to the basic child support obligation, the result is the “presumptive” child support obligation. Finally, that last figure is divided between the parents, based on their percentage of combined income.

You want to ensure that you and your child get fair treatment and are not ignored in many areas, including the amount of child support. And do not forget that child support modifications are in order when certain matters change in your life. Here’s how we can help you navigate the support process: We use a software program that calculates the amount of support that you will receive (or have to pay), and we can predict the outcome of a support proceeding when we have the information in advance. We attend support conferences with our clients and run the calculations alongside the conference officer to determine that the calculations are accurate and complete. If you already had a support conference and are not satisfied with the outcome, we can help you determine whether a request for a de novo hearing (an appeal) is a good idea.

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