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Child Support Order – Deviation Above Recommended Guideline Amount

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J.P.D. v. W.E.D., PICS Case No. 15-0740 (PA.Super. May 5,2015) Ford Elliot, J.

In J.P.D. v. W.E.B., father W.E.B. appealed from an order of the trial court ordering him to pay $1,365 per month to mother, J.P.D. for the support for their two children.

Father filed a petition seeking modification of the child support order due to the upcoming expiration of the party’s alimony term. The trial court held a hearing and both parties presented experts that assessed their earning capacities.

It was father, W.E.B.’s position that he and mother, J.P.D. had comparable incomes. It was mother’s position that father’s current wife, who’s annual income exceeds over a million dollars, was sole provider.  Upon expert testimony, the hearing officer entered a temporary order, directing father to pay $926.65 retroactive from May, 2014. Mother filed exceptions in which she argued that he hearing officer erred in crediting the testimony of fathers expert over mothers expert and failed to add back 100 percent of fathers living expenses that were paid by fathers current wife. Father filed cross-exemptions arguing that the hearing officer erred in determining his annual income. The trial court sustained, in part, both mother’s and father’s exceptions. The trial court found that the father’s guideline monthly child support was $665; the trial court then added an upward deviation of $701 due to father’s current wife’s substantial income, resulting in a total monthly support award of $1,365.

On appeal, father argued that the trial court’s award was contrary to the evidence presented at trial. Father argued that he contributed to the payment of his household expenses; however, the court found that father’s testimony regarding his household expenses and contribution supported the trial court’s determination, as father testified that current wife paid all of their household expenses and father’s living expenses.

The court held that it is within the trial courts discretion to deviate from the support guidelines when supported by the records. It ruled that the record supported the trial courts determination that the father could afford an additional $701 per month for the support of his children. Mother did not live with a spouse with an annual income exceeding a million dollars. Therefore, father had more income for child support.


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