When a couple begins the divorce process, one key element of the settlement is known simply as support.
Child support and family support payments are generally paid on a weekly/monthly basis and continue on until the youngest child reaches age 18 (in Pennsylvania) or is emancipated New Jersey this is more complicated analysis). In New Jersey, payments may continue for any children over the age of 18 who are enrolled in college.
Child support is the money one spouse must pay to the spouse with physical custody to assist with things such as school costs and everyday needs. In the 1980s, federal laws were passed ordering states to establish guidelines for determining the base amount of child support. These laws came into effect due to beliefs that child support payments were too low and the wide variation in ordered payments for similar circumstances caused confusion and complaints.
Today, both Pennsylvania and New Jersey calculate the final amount using a complex algebraic equation factoring in things such as parent income and number of children. Most family law attorneys have software to assist in computing the guideline amount. The formulas are based on studies estimating the normal costs for a family to raise children. However, due to the unique situation of each case, it is often difficult to predict an amount with absolute certainty.
Payment guidelines attempt to approximate how much a parent would have theoretically spent on a child if the divorce had never taken place. The final number is determined after courts plug their estimates into the guideline formula. The guidelines apply equally to children born to married parents and to children born out of wedlock.
Petrelli Law can help you through this difficult time. If you would like help determining an estimate of child support, please contact our office. We use the same software that the courts use to determine the guideline support amounts, and would be happy to crunch some numbers for you. Call us at (215) 523-6900.