Child Support Attorneys in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Child support often has either a positive or negative connotation, depending on whether you are the parent who receives or pays it. Arguments between parents as they divorce, end relationships, or establish paternity can be angry and emotional.
The fact is that every child deserves financial support from both parents because they cannot possibly support themselves. How parents feel about that is the concern of neither Pennsylvania law nor the courts who uphold it. Child support is about the child.
Whether you want to establish child support or have questions about modifying an existing child support order, we can help. The family law attorneys at Luvara Law Group LLC have been listening to parents as they try to navigate child support issues in Pittsburgh, Greensburg, New Castle, Uniontown, Washington, and Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, for a combined 75 years. If you are ready to talk, we are ready to listen.
What Are the Basics of Child Support in Pennsylvania?
The underlying premise of child support is a belief that children should receive the same amount of financial support when their parents are no longer living together as they would if their parents were living together. In other words, while one person in a marriage or relationship may suffer financially after a divorce or breakup, the children should not have to suffer.
So, when awarding child support, the court will consider several factors, including:
The basic financial needs of each parent and the ability of each parent to provide support;
Each parent’s net income;
Any special needs of the children and parents;
The custody award and parenting plan agreement;
The existence of other children requiring the financial support of each parent;
The cost of childcare and health insurance coverage for the children; and,
The children’s medical and other special expenses.
It is important to know that a parent’s monthly gross income is not only what they may earn from a job. Retirement and pensions, income from rent, royalties, interest, and dividends, net business income, alimony, inheritance income, lottery winnings, personal injury, and other awards, as well as Social Security benefits, disability, workers’ compensation, and other such income are also used in the calculation.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
The judge will use formula guidelines to calculate child support, plugging in key factors such as time spent with the child and monthly net income of each parent. Although the calculus essentially treats all parents and children as equals, there are special guidelines for low-income parents as well as parents earning exceptionally high incomes. Again, remember the goal is to provide the same financial support the children would receive if their parents were still together.
Some parents have attempted to become voluntarily unemployed or underemployed to avoid paying the child support they should. However, if there is evidence of this tactic, judges will impute the income of that parent. That simply means the child support award will be calculated using the income the parent should be earning and not what they are showing as income.
An experienced child support attorney will be able to predict the amount of child support you are likely to receive or be ordered by the court to pay.
Can An Existing Child Support Arrangement Be Modified?
The law recognizes that things change during the lives of children and their parents. As such, child support modification will be considered by the court if there are significant changes that justify it. Such substantive change could be due to a child’s health and education needs. The changing needs of each parent after the child support arrangement is in place may be as well. The court may also consider such events as remarriage, the birth or death of children, relocation, the involuntary loss of employment or a substantial increase in income or assets, health crises, and other events that warrant less or more child support.
Child support is an order issued by the court and as such, cannot be changed without the court’s issuance of a new order. It is best to work with your family law attorney if you believe the existing arrangement should be modified.
When Does Child Support End?
Termination of child support in Pennsylvania usually occurs when a child reaches the age of 18. The court could order an extension of financial support for a child with special developmental or healthcare needs. Moreover, some parents may be required to provide child support for vocational or higher education.
If the child becomes an emancipated minor by joining the military, getting married, or by court award, child support could cease before age 18.
Child Support Attorneys Serving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Child support can be complicated and emotional. Working with experienced family law attorneys like us can make the process less of a mystery and provide an often-needed buffer between you and the other parent. If you want to establish a child support arrangement or modify an existing one, call Luvara Law Group LLC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to schedule a time to talk. We are ready to listen.