In Pennsylvania, child support is determined by the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines. Under the guidelines, support is calculated according to the parents’ respective monthly net incomes. However, if the combined monthly net income of the parties is greater than $20,000.00, the amount of child support to be paid will be based upon a consideration of the child’s reasonable needs.
The type of custody and parenting time arrangement will also play a part in determining the amount of support.
The non-custodial parent (meaning the parent with a lesser percentage of time with the child) may also be obligated to contribute his or her proportionate share of other expenses found to be reasonable in light of the circumstances, such as medical expenses, school tuition, daycare, summer camp, sports, etc.
In Pennsylvania, child support is enforced through the Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System. If an obligor falls into arrears (i.e. the amount past due), PACSES may take action to enforcement the child support order and collect the arrears. Some of the most common means of enforcing a child support order is through suspending the payor’s license, increasing the amount of wage attachment, interception the payor’s IRS tax refund, etc.
A person who willfully fails to meet their child support obligation also faces being held in contempt and faces any one or more of the following:
- Imprisonment for a period not to exceed six months.
- A fine not to exceed $1,000.
- Probation for a period not to exceed one year.
Generally, child support must be collected by garnishment of the payor’s wages. In order to avoid wage attachment, one of the following must exist:
- The obligor is not in arrears in payment in an amount equal to or greater of one month’s support obligation; and
- (i) One of the parties demonstrates, and the court finds, that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding; or
(ii) A written agreement is reached between the parties which provides for an alternative arrangement.
Despite the above, the court may, on its own motion, order wage attachment where the court has a reasonable basis to believe the obligor will not comply with the order of support.
Pennsylvania law provides that a person’s child support obligation is never permanent. It can be modified when there is a showing of a change of circumstances. A person’s obligation will end upon the child turning 18 years of age or graduates from high school, whichever is later.
(23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4307, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4322, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4323, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4341, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4344, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4345, 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4348)