Parents going through a divorce may wonder how the expenses that come with raising children will be distributed between the parents. There are many different methods that courts use to determine the appropriate amount of child support, and these rules are generally governed by state law. As such, those who are in this situation are wise to have a basic understanding of how their state handles these matters.

How does Pennsylvania law impact child support calculations? To calculate child support, Pennsylvania uses a method referred to as the income shares model to determine appropriate payments. This model takes the income from both parents into consideration when calculating child support obligations. This model is designed to help better ensure that the children experience the same quality of life after the divorce is complete that they enjoyed during the marriage.

How does this calculation keep the children’s quality of life as consistent as possible? The model takes into account how much parents spend on raising children and attempts to ensure that this amount remains consistent, even after the divorce is finalized. This number is what guides the court when it determines how much a parent should pay in child support.

As noted in the 2012 Update of the Pennsylvania Child Support Schedule, children “should be afforded the same financial opportunities as children of intact families with similar incomes.”

What factors are taken into consideration when coming up with the child support payment amount? The court first looks at the after-tax or net income. This income is used as the basis of the child support calculation. The court also considers the actual amount spent on child care needs, actual healthcare expenses (including insurance premiums) as well as education costs such as private school tuition and summer camps. The amount is then adjusted to reflect the amount of time the child spends with each parent.

Can you adjust the child support payment that was set during divorce later in life? In some cases, a modification or assistance in enforcing the agreed upon payment may be needed.

In these situations, it is wise to seek legal counsel. Your attorney can review your situation both during the divorce process to ensure a good initial calculation and later on if a modification or enforcement is needed.

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