Several changes to the state-wide support guidelines will take place in August 2013. First and foremost, the basic child support schedule will be updated to reflect newer economic data. The basic child support schedule is a table that references the combined monthly net income of the parents and the number of children to determine the appropriate support award. There is a presumption that the amount of support indicated by the support schedule is the correct amount. In addition to updating the entire support schedule, the Self-Support Reserve has also increased from $867 a month to $931 a month. This amount reflects the 2012 poverty level for one person. The self-support reserve is the minimum amount of income that should be retained by the party paying support to ensure they can support themselves and to provide an incentive to continue working.
Pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. § 3502(c), the court has the express authority to award exclusive possession of the marital residence to one or both parties during the pendency of the divorce. This provision was added to the law in 1990. Prior to that, the court had determined it had the authority to grant exclusive possession of the marital residence under the "full equity power and jurisdiction of the court" found at 23 Pa. C.S. §3323(f). This provision gives the court the authority to issue injunctions or other orders necessary to protect the interests of the parties. Laczkowski v. Laczkowski, decided in 1985, was the first case to hold that the court could award exclusive possession of the martial residence during a divorce. 344 Pa. Super. 154 (Pa. Super. 1985). In Laczkowski, the home was to be given to the spouse having physical custody of any minor children.
In the event that a party in a support matter asserts an inability to work due to medical issues, the support rules now require that a physician verification form be completed. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.) 1910.29 (b), regarding evidence in support matters, the physician verification form should be completed by the party's physician and submitted at the time of the support conference. If the party receives Social Security disability or workers' compensation benefits, proof of income from those sources can be submitted in lieu of the physician verification form. A sample of the actual form to be used is contained in Pa.R.C.P. 1910.29(b)(3).
In a support matter, the incomes of the parties will be used to calculate an appropriate award based on the support guidelines applicable throughout the commonwealth. In the event there is a disagreement over the entry of an interim support order, a party has the option of filing exceptions. Pursuant to Pa. R.C.P. 1910.12, parties have twenty (20) days from the entry of an order to file exceptions. Exceptions may address objections to evidence, findings of facts, conclusions of law, or any other matters occurring during the hearing. Each issue should be raised separately as an exception. Each exception should be concise and without lengthy discussion. Issues that are not raised in the exceptions are deemed waived. Examples of appropriate exceptions would include claims that the incomes and/or expenses were not correctly calculated, special circumstances were not considered, or there was an error in assigning an earning capacity. It is not appropriate to file exceptions simply because you do not agree with the guideline amount.