There are a number of legal issues that can arise during a divorce. One issue that can be more contentious than others involves child support obligations. Child support payments are designed to better ensure the financial well-being of children after their parents’ divorce.
In theory, this obligation seems straight forward. Parents should have some level of financial accountability for their children. In actuality, determining a proper amount for child support can be a very difficult process.
How are child support payment obligations determined in Pennsylvania? The amount of child support payment that is required from a parent is determined in accordance with the Pennsylvania Support Guideline. Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services notes that this guideline was set up in an attempt to better ensure that children receive the same portion of parental income that they would receive if the parents were not divorced.
Determining a number based on this goal can be difficult. Courts can take a number of factors into consideration in an attempt to better ensure the support payment is fair. Three broad factors generally taken into consideration by the court include:
- Income. The income of each parent will be reviewed by the court.
- Expenses. This consideration can include the cost of everything from the basics like insurance, childcare and clothing to things that may be available for a higher standard of living like vacations and private education if either parent enjoys such a standard.
- Number of children. 70 percent of child support orders in Pennsylvania involve families with one child. Approximately 25 percent of remaining orders are for those of families with two children. The average order amount generally increases with the number of children.
The Guidelines are not an easy document to review, let alone apply. Even these three broad considerations can have variables depending on each family’s unique situation.
As a result, those who are going through a divorce are wise to seek legal counsel. Your attorney will be able to explain how the Guidelines likely apply to your situation, helping to advocate for you and your children’s rights while better ensuring the final obligation is in your children’s best interests.