Montgomery County, PA Child Support Lawyers
How an Attorney Can Help With Child Support Issues
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 visitation 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.
The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., has many years of experience handling cases of child support throughout Pennsylvania. Sheryl R. Rentz is a member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar Associations, as well as the Montgomery County Bar Association. We offer free and confidential consultations on any potential case regarding child support or divorce and will let you know what your rights are.
When a Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support in Pennsylvania
The most common situation involving child support is when one parent does not pay his or her required amount to the other parent. Pennsylvania has very strict laws that make punishments for offenders extremely severe. Any amounts owed in back payments of child support are known as arrears; and the parent who does not pay them can face jail time, driver’s license and passport suspension, bank account seizure, reporting of failure to pay to credit agencies, seizures of certain incomes and properties, and more. There are many ways you can collect child support, and enforcing them is as simple as contacting an experienced child support attorney for free advice.
When a parent is in arrears and is still refusing to pay current child support, an enforcement application can be filed with a court of law. In addition, Pennsylvania child support laws allow the punishments mentioned above to be implemented once a child support enforcement application is filed.
Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support
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 a 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 child support in 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. However, if a parent wants to make amends and pay child support after not paying for some time or escaping responsibility by fleeing the state, he or she does have options. Contact our office for a free and completely confidential consultation to learn what your options are regarding outstanding child support payments. In some cases, a failure to pay child support can be made up once the child is of a certain age. The payments can even be lessened and any past record cleared.
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.
Establishing Paternity for Child Support Orders
"Parentage" refers to an action filed by either one of a child’s parents in an effort to legally establish paternity. This process is done if the two parents are not married, and it serves to determine the father’s legal responsibilities moving forward. The petition must be completed before the court can give out an order for child support, or a father can voluntarily sign a verified written acknowledgement of paternity. If the parents are married when the child is born, the husband is automatically recognized as the legal father.
The doctrine of paternity by estoppel can be applied to child support cases when a father holds a child as his own whether he is the biological father or not. This means he has taken on the role of father for all intents and purposes and cannot deny paternity in legal matters. It is also used for mothers who hold a man as their children’s father while they are in a relationship, to prevent these mothers from seeking child support from someone else in the future.
Remarriage and Child Support
Entering into a new marriage doesn’t immediately mean a court order for child support will be changed. However, the court may take a couple of factors into consideration to decide whether or not to modify the current order. While the new spouse isn’t necessarily responsible for financially supporting a child from a different relationship, it is assumed that his or her income will help lessen the household expenses, which could mean it’s not necessary for the custodial parent to receive the same amount of support. Having another child also has the potential to reduce a previous child support order, depending on the parents’ monthly net income and their total support obligation for all children.
Alimony, Child Support, and Taxes
Alimony is given so that an ex-spouse may maintain the same standard of living he or she was used to while in the marriage. The party who has a higher income is generally ordered to pay alimony, and he or she can claim this as a tax deduction. On the other hand, the party receiving alimony will need to report it as income on taxes.
Child support payments are to be used solely to provide for the needs of the children. They should go towards paying for things like the children’s shelter, food, clothes, education, medical expenses, and recreational activities. There are no tax requirements on child support for either the person paying or receiving.
Keeping the Client’s Best Interests in Mind
The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C., located in Pennsylvania, has years of legal experience dealing with complicated child custody litigation. Our offices can help recover your legally entitled child support, aid couples who are worried about making a child support contract, or help parents who have not paid child support in some time. We welcome complicated cases including high-asset divorces and complex tax issues. Call us at (610) 645-0100 or (866) 290-9292 to schedule your free and comprehensive consultation with a Montgomery County child support attorney.
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