Chester County Child Support Attorney
Dealing with Child Support Payments in Pennsylvania
Child support is an important element of divorce proceedings involving children, oftentimes not far behind custody and visitation. Child support payments are designed under Pennsylvania law to provide for the child and ensure that they are well taken care of after a divorce. The size of these payments, and whether or not payments are necessary at all, can become a major subject of debate during your divorce.
If you need assistance dealing with child support in your Chester County divorce, reach out to the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. With over 25 years of experience, our Chester County child support lawyer can advocate for your best interest in a child support dispute to ensure that payments are calculated correctly or that you are not paying more than you have to. To discuss your case in a free consultation, contact our office toll-free at (866) 290-9292.
Who Has to Pay Child Support?
After a divorce, both parents are legally obligated to provide for their child’s well-being, both emotionally and financially. Pennsylvania courts hold that one parent may be required to make payments to the other parent to ensure that their child can enjoy a financially stable and healthy life until that child reaches the age of 18.
Oftentimes, the non-custodial parents are the ones who have to make child support payments, meaning that that parent does not have sole custody of the child. Even if you have joint custody, the courts will often require the parent with the least amount of physical time with the child to make child support payments. This is because the parent who does have physical custody tends to have to pay higher living expenses to raise the child, such as rent, mortgages, utilities, food, and clothing. These payments are designed to help offset those costs so that your child can enjoy a basic standard of living.
In rare cases, both parents may have to make child support payments if the child is living with a third-party guardian, such as a grandparent or adult sibling who has received guardianship from the court.
How Do Courts Calculate Payments?
Chester County family law courts will calculate child support based on 31 Pa. Code Rule 1910.16-4, which outlines a general child support worksheet that takes into account the amount of financial support a child would have received if their parents had remained married. These formulas can be extremely intimidating and confusing for parents, but the general procedures that the courts follow involve reviewing both of the parents’ incomes and determining how much money each parent can reasonably contribute to the child. The courts will also look at how much time a child spends with each parent, often adding up the number of nights in a year that a child spends at one household over the other.
Several other factors can also play a role in child support payments, including:
- The number of children involved in the case
- Each parents’ assets and benefits
- If a child has a specific expense, such as a disability
- Contributions to the child’s health insurance
- Payments to other dependents
- The child’s age and needs
Child support is not set in stone, however, and the court can modify payments under extraordinary circumstances, such as if one parent becomes ill, injured, or loses a job, or if custody arrangements significantly change. Once an order is issued by the court, you have within 20 days to file an appeal. When requesting a modification to your child support, you will want to contact a skilled attorney to ensure that you receive fair representation in the court.
What if My Ex Refuses to Pay Child Support?
Child support payments are designed to provide financial stability for a dependent child, and Pennsylvania courts take missed payments or refusals to make payments very seriously. If one parent fails to make a payment, the court could garnish wages, benefits, and assets to cover the difference and may even impose interest on past-due payments. However, this is not an automatic process, and you will have to petition the court to ensure a child support order is enforced.
Refusal to make child support payments could also lead to your child’s other parent being found in contempt of court, which is a criminal act in Pennsylvania. This can lead to jail time, fines, and restitution. The court can also suspend their license and passport if they miss multiple payments.
However, because the court does not automatically punish parents for missing child support payments, a parent could still petition the court to allow them more time to make payments. The courts understand that a parent could have been unable to make a payment on time if they had come under financial hardships. If you are having difficulties making your child support payments, you may be able to have your payments temporarily or permanently modified. But to do that, you will need to talk to a lawyer to ensure that you are abiding by all court proceedings and have a strong case.
Need Legal Assistance with Child Support? Call Us Today
Working with your child’s other parent to determine child support and ensure payments are made on time can be difficult if you went through a contentious divorce. There may be hurt feelings, bitterness, and lingering resentment over custody orders. However, this is no excuse for not financially supporting a child. Each parent is legally obligated to take care of their child and, if there is a disagreement about payments, then it should be handled with the court.
If you require legal assistance with court-ordered child support, reach out to the Chester County family law attorney at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. Our legal team can thoroughly review your case in a free consultation and discuss all options before moving forward with a game plan. We can provide in-depth legal guidance with issues surrounding child support, as well as other family law matters like custody, alimony, and divorce proceedings. To learn how we can represent you in a family law case, contact our office toll-free at (866) 290-9292.