If you are seeking a divorce and you and your current spouse are parents you need to lay the foundation for a happy and healthy future for yourself and your children. When divorcing there are both emotional and financial issues to consider. Issues surrounding children can be extremely contentious during a divorce, but a skilled attorney can help bring together to start working on issues together for the sake of the children.
Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines are intended to ensure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly. Accordingly, all parties making $3000 per month with 3 kids would pay the same amount of support based on the guideline amounts. The guidelines are based on an "Income Shares Model." Accordingly, the guideline amount will be based on the combined net monthly income of both parties. However, there are circumstances which warrant a deviation from the guideline amount such as having a special needs child.
A presumption of paternity arises where a child is born into an intact marriage. In that circumstance, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, the husband will be deemed to be the father. However, even in the absence of a biological connection, paternity may be established. Paternity by estoppel acts to impose an obligation on the party who holds themselves out as a father to the child and supports the child to continue to support the child. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that the purpose of paternity by estoppel is to keep families intact and protect the best interest of the child by shielding them from claims of illegitimacy and, potentially, a broken family.
Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines are intended to ensure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly. Accordingly, all parties making $3000 per month with 3 kids would pay the same amount of support based on the guideline amounts. The guidelines are based on an "Income Shares Model." Accordingly, the guideline amount will be based on the combined net monthly income of both parties.
When parties have an equal custodial arrangement, meaning that they share overnights on an equal basis, seven nights in a two week period with one parent and seven nights with the other, there is still the possibility of a child support order. The party who earns more money will be obligated to pay support. If, however, there is a cost for health insurance, this amount will be factored into the guideline calculation. Any cost for daycare or after school expenses will also be factored into the equation. These costs can be significant and can greatly impact who gets paid and what amount. It is a good idea to always get a rough estimate on child support before going to court over these issues.
In Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, child support terminates when a child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. The Court has held that there is no obligation for parents to provide for children beyond this time. Even if your child resides with you and does not have a job and instead chooses to go to college, the other parent will have no obligation to pay anything towards college costs. If, however, you negotiate an agreement in writing with the other parent to pay for college costs and the other parent agrees to it in writing, then the Court can enforce that agreement under contract law. Oftentimes, parents who cannot negotiate an agreement for college costs in their divorce assume this means the other parent has no interest in paying or contributing to college costs. This is not always the case. A parent may still intend to assist a child with college costs but by not putting it in writing, they are not legally obligated to do that and instead, can decide if and how much they want to contribute. Also, it is important to decide where the child who attends college will reside as only the income of the parent with whom they reside will be relevant in qualifying for financial aid. If that parent, remarries, however, the stepparent's income and assets can affect the amount of financial aid available to the child even if they have no legal obligation to support the child.
Whenever there is a change income, whether it is the party receiving child support or the party paying child support, it is that person's responsibility to file to modify the support order. When someone is suddenly let go from work, even if they qualify for unemployment income, it is often necessary to file to modify support. Even though the wages are attached and the court receives their funds from unemployment, this still does not mean the court is put on notice. You must take initiative and file to modify the order. Even if it is temporary, you should do this in case you are out of work longer than you anticipate. Having to pay a support order based on income you no longer have can be disastrous. In addition, if you have lost health coverage, it is important that you notify the other party as soon as possible. If you are receiving support, likewise, you should file to modify your support order. Support orders are modifiable if either party experiences a change.
If you have a charging support order in PA for either child or spousal support, you likely have to pay the first $ 250 in out of pocket medical expenses each year per person before the remainder are allocated based on a percentage. You need to keep good records in order to receive your remainder share. You should create a list per person of all medical bills per person that are received each month and keep a copy of the bill. You will also need to keep a copy of the check or credit card receipt showing that you paid the copay or bill. Once you have reached $ 250 for the year, you should provide the documentation showing that you reached this limit and then start keeping track of all bills that come in for the rest of the year and request the percentage the other side is responsible to pay. You will likely have to front the money and seek reimbursement. In all cases, if payment is not made by March of the following year, you will need to file contempt with the court in your Domestic Relations office and again provide proof of notice and payment. It pays to be organized and you should make this something you do in January of each year.
When the parties are married, usually, one of the parties carries the health insurance for the parties and any minor children. The Court keeps the status quo as much as possible while the divorce is pending. If you are carrying insurance for your spouse, you cannot drop them until the divorce is final. Health Insurance is an issue that arises in support court through Domestic Relations. As long as health insurance is available at a reasonable cost through work, that parent will be required to provide health insurance for the children.
A child support obligation typically ends when the minor child is eighteen or graduates high school, whichever is later. However, in certain circumstances the obligation for support may continue past those milestones. One example would be if the child has a disability. Pennsylvania courts have held that the child support guidelines would continue to apply in the instance of a child who, despite age, remains unemancipated or unable to support themselves by virtue of a disability. The court is to determine if an adult child has a mental or physical condition that prevents the child from earning a living wage. Additionally, the court should look to see whether an order of continued support would result in undue hardship on the parents.