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Posts tagged "child support"

Child Support and Child Custody in a PFA order

Under the Protection from Abuse Act, a Court can, as part of the order granting a protection from abuse, also issue terms on custody of the minor children as part of that order.A Protection from Abuse order can be granted in Pennsylvania for up to three years. If an order includes a provision for custody, this does not mean that the other parent will not get to see the children for three years. If an order is entered that contains custody provisions, it is very important if the order is entered against you that you file for custody through the Family Court in the county where the Child resides. The Court in Family Court will determine custody and the terms of that custody order will override the terms in the Protection from Abuse Order. Likewise, if you receive a Child Support order as part of a Protection from Abuse Order, you must file for child support within two weeks in order to continue to receive child support. You file for child support at Domestic Relations. As long as you file for child support within the two week period, you will continue to receive support under the PFA order until Domestic Relations has its hearing and enters a new child support order. If you fail to file in the two week period then the child support in the PFA will terminate and you will not get support until you file and have a hearing through Domestic Relations. 

When and where to file for Child Support in Pennsylvania

Child support is a remedy afforded to the parent who has the majority of time with the children or who has equal time but makes less money. Child support may be filed either in the county where the child lives, the defendant lives or the defendant works. In Pennsylvania, child support is based on guidelines so no matter what county in Pennsylvania you choose to file, the amount should be the same and the money is all funneled through the PACSES which is located in Harrisburg. The difference may be procedure, time and how many steps it takes you to see the Judge. For example, in Bucks County, PA, you will attend a lower level conference and if not resolved it will be scheduled for a Judge within a few weeks. In Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties, however, you will first go to a conference, then to a Master's Hearing and then to a Judge.

Disabled? Unemployed? When to Modify your Support Order

Whether you are receiving or support, it's important that if you become disabled, or end up on unemployment, even temporarily, that you file to modify your support. Just because you are out of work, or undergo surgery, does not mean that you can explain it all later to the Court. Nor does it mean that your support will not be due. You need to file to either lower or stop your support if you are paying during the period of time you are disabled or out of work. Otherwise, if you do nothing, the amount you were ordered to pay will continue to charge against you and you could find yourself in contempt if it is not paid. If you are the one receiving support and you become disabled, or suddenly lose your job and are on unemployment, you need to file in order to see if you can get an increase in support temporarily while you are out. If you are unable to file yourself, it may be a good idea to give someone you trust a Power of Attorney to file on your behalf.
Support is modifiable whenever there is a change in circumstances. It does not always have to be due to a disability or unemployment. Whenever there is a change income or any of the factors that play into a support order such as child care expenses, health insurance expenses, etc. you may need to go back to court have your support order recalculated. If you think you may have a change in circumstance that warrants a modification, always consult with an attorney.

Child Support and where the money goes

Oftentimes people who have to pay child support do not understand why they have to pay the amount that they do. Sometimes they think that they can demand receipts for everything that their money is used to by for the child. In PA, the parent who has the majority of the time is the one who is entitled to receive child support. If parents have equal time, the parent who earns less is entitled to receive child support. There is no accounting required for expenditures except in the instance when the party is seeking additional money in unreimbursed medical expenses, or child care costs which are over and above the basic support obligation. While it may seem that several hundred dollars is more money than you would spend on the average child in a given month, the paying parent often fails to consider that the basic child support factors in basic needs including housing, electric, food, clothing that the primary parent needs to provide. When you consider the additional cost that a two bedroom apartment costs versus a one bedroom apartment, and the additional water or electric used, it becomes easier to understand and accept why the court orders the amount of support that they do and easier to accept that it is not a dollar for dollar tally of the expenses used for the child. 

Disestablishing Paternity

It is difficult to avoid the obligations that come with parenting a child. Paternity can be established in a number of ways including by acknowledgment, by genetic testing, or by estoppel. Once an acknowledgment of paternity is signed, it is very difficult for a father to then try to allege the child is not his. An acknowledgment acts as conclusive evidence that the person who signed the acknowledgment is in fact the father of any subject child(ren). A court order on paternity will follow if the genetic test results indicate 99% probability of paternity. Paternity by estoppel recognizes a man as the father based on his role in the child's life rather than the biological connection. 

Veterans Benefits and Support

Former military members may be eligible to receive a number of different veterans benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Possible benefits include disability compensation, pension benefits, life insurance, educational benefits and more. The former service member may also be entitled to additional benefits for dependents. Where the service member is also responsible for paying child support, certain benefits can be garnished to ensure the support obligation is met. The first step is to correctly categorize the benefit to determine if it is subject to garnishment. The second step is establishing a need on the part of the party seeking support and other dependents as well as a failure by the veteran to supply the need. Thirdly, the VA must be assured that there will not be an undue hardship on the veteran as a result of the garnishment.

Debt Compromise

It can be difficult to catch up on support if a large arrears balance accrues. Unfortunately, sometimes the party paying support has good intentions to pay support but due to circumstances out of their control, end up falling behind. It may be possible to arrange a settlement to clear up an arrears balance. The settlement will generally involve a reduced total in exchange for a lump sum payment. Such an arrangement can be agreed upon between two private parties at any time. There is more gray area when the debt is owed to the State. 

Health Insurance for Children

Health insurance for minor children is an issue dealt with in the context of child support. If the children are presently covered under a plan through one of the parents, the children can remain on that plan. The other parent would then contribute to the premium being paid if applicable. This can be achieved by an increase over the guideline support amount if the party receiving support is paying the premium or a decrease if the parent who is receiving support is not the one providing the coverage. A change in which parent provides the coverage may be beneficial if one parent's coverage is better than the other or less expensive but with similar coverage. Sometimes, the motive in changing plans is for the parent paying support to reduce the support paid directly to the other parent by adding the children to their plan instead.

Driver's License Suspension

One of the consequences of failing to pay child support is a suspension of your driver's license. This can happen if support is overdue by three months or more. Advance notice must be given prior to the suspension. The notice specifies the past due amount, how, when and where it can be contested. Grounds for contesting notice of suspension are limited to mistake in the amount of past due support actually owed or mistaken identity. The suspension will occur after thirty days if there is no response, the past due amount is not paid or excused, or there is not a court-approved payment plan in place. 

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