Frequently Asked Questions about Pennsylvania Child Support
Both parents have an obligation to provide financial support to their children. When parents separate or divorce, child support is used to cover the costs of raising children including food, shelter, education, medical care, clothing and more. Under Pennsylvania law, every parent has a duty to support his or her child regardless of whether or not the parents are married. Even parents who are denied visitations must support their children.
The penalties for failing to pay child support can be significant in Pennsylvania. If you are going through a divorce and children are involved, it’s crucial that you understand your rights and consult an experienced Montgomery County family law attorney who can help answer all of your questions. Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz toll free at (866) 290-9292 to discuss your legal rights.
Q: How is the amount of child support determined in Pennsylvania?
A: The amount of child support awarded is determined by Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1910.16. The support guidelines were created to make sure that children of divorced parents receive the same proportion of parental incomes that they would have if their parents had stayed together.
Q: Is it possible to change a child support order in Montgomery County right away?
A: If you disagree with the child support order, you will have to act quickly to change it. You must file an appeal within 20 days after the order is received. You can request a hearing with the county Domestic Relations Office that issued the order.
Q: What grounds are there for changing a child support order later?
A: When life circumstances change, you can petition to change, cancel or reinstate an existing order. Life changes that may qualify for changing a child support order include the existence of additional income, increases in expenses, changes in custody, emancipation of child or death of one of the spouses. Spouses may also settle on a new agreement outside of court and then request approval for the revised guidelines.
Q: How long will I have to make child support payments?
A: Parents in Pennsylvania are financially responsible for their children until they reach the age of 18. Payments must continue if the child has hit 18 but is still in high school. Only after the child leaves high school and is 18 or is emancipated will you be allowed to stop making payments.
Q: Do I have to pay past due arrears even after my child emancipates or comes of age?
A: An “arrear” is a legal term for a debt that is overdue after missing one or more required payments. Arrears stay as outstanding debt that must be paid in full, no matter how long it takes. Even if you change the child support order, past due arrears still have to be paid.
Q: When are child support payments due?
A: Support payments are due on the first day of every month. The total amount due that month must be paid before the first day of the next month to prevent legal action.
Q: What happens if a parent fails to pay child support?
A: If a parent falls behind in paying child support, the county Domestic Relations Office can garnish wages or take the parent's income tax refund checks, personal property, bank accounts or even lottery winnings. If the parent falls behind for more than a month, the parent's driver's license or passport could be suspended.
The Montgomery County family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz have represented the rights of many parents fighting for a fair child support order. We welcome complicated cases including high asset divorces or cases involving complex tax issues. Call us at (610) 645-0100 or (866) 290-9292 to schedule your free and comprehensive consultation.