Erie Child Support Lawyer
Child support is determined by several steps and may involve paternity law and other considerations. Considerations beyond parental income come into play and court proceedings in this area of the law can continue for the duration of the time the child remains a minor.
Rules for child support depend on the circumstances of each case
First, you need to define custodial parent and non-custodial parent. A non-custodial parent is the parent or individual with whom the child lives. The parent who does not have custody of the child (or who the child does not live with) is known as the non-custodial parent.
The next step is understanding that both the mother and father of a child have a legal duty to provide support for their child. This legal duty to provide support continues until the child is 18 years of age. This may continue beyond 18 years of age if the child is older but is still in high school. In that case, the support will continue until the child is out of high school.
When we talk about who pays support, the law presumes that the parent who has custody of the child is already providing financial support by living with the child. The court will require the non-custodial parent to pay child support even if they are exercising some degree of custody and during visitation. A custodial parent is not allowed to prevent visitation for failure to pay child support.
The parents’ marital status does not affect child support. It may add the step of determining paternity if the parents are unmarried when the child is born. If the parents are married when the child is born, a presumption is made that the husband is the father.
To start a child support case, the custodial parent should go to the Domestic Relations office of the Court of Common Pleas for that parent’s county and fill out a complaint. Once this is done, the Domestic Relations office will try to create an agreement by holding a conference. If an agreement cannot be reached, then a person called a Master will hold a hearing that will be scheduled at a later date to determine who pays child support and how much the payment will be. Each parent may be represented by an attorney at that hearing which is recommended. An appeal called exceptions to the decision may be filed by either party who disagrees with the determination by the Master. This will require the court to review the matter. There will probably not be any additional evidence taken by the Court just a review of the evidence already received.
Receipt of child support is based upon custody not the relationship to the child. As a result, anyone who has custody of the child may receive the child support paid by a parent. This may include a grandparent or other relative.
The amount of child support is determined by a formula. This formula takes into account each party’s income, certain amounts that are deducted from the income and the number of children. There are guidelines called the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines which will produce a suggested amount of support. This also can be adjusted based upon the specific need in a case. The support order can be appealed by either party.
A support order can be changed depending on changes in the parents circumstances. A parent can ask the court to change their child support order if they feel there has been a change in circumstance. Factors that may change child support include any changes in the parents’ expenses or income (which should be reported to the Domestic Relations Office immediately). A reduction in income and/or loss of job due to being laid off, downsizing or company closures could reduce or suspend payments. In circumstances where the child has significant or continuing medical costs the amount can change. If there are changes to the child’s daycare and/or medical insurance coverage. The amount can change if the parents are now living together or if the child’s living situation has changed because the child is living with someone else. Other, unique changes in the circumstances can also be used to ask the court to change the child support amount.
Attorney Parini was knowledgeable about the law and did a great job in working hard to help me with my problem. He was always available to answer my questions.