Child Support in Pittsburgh
Both parents of a child have an obligation to support their children financially. Regardless of the marriage situation, this obligation for support exists. Typically, the primary guardian of the child receives support from the parent with visitation rights. However, even if visitation is prohibited or revoked, that parent must still provide support payments to the other parent with whom the child lives.
Child support payments must continue until the child is 18 years of age, or graduates high school – whichever one is last. After this mark, pending a disability or predetermined court arrangement, child support does not need to be paid after the age of 18.
Filing a Child Support order
To receive a child support order, you must file a complaint for child support, a form provided by your county’s Domestic Relations office. Once a conference is scheduled to address the complaint, both parents must meet to discuss their individual incomes. With this information, the presiding officer will recommend an appropriate amount of support to be paid. Either parent can file an appeal within 20 days of the order being issued. However, the parents must follow the original order until a judge makes a ruling on the appeal.
How is the amount of Child Support determined?
Child support payment amounts are structured around the combined incomes of both parents and how many children are involved in the order. Pennsylvania uses a standard set of guidelines to determine the amount that should be paid, unless a parent successfully appeals the order.
First, the state establishes a set amount that the parents should be spending each month on the child’s needs. Then, the state mandates that the parent whom pays child support (the one without custody of the child), must pay a percentage of that support amount based on their net income ¬¬– the higher their percentage of the combined income, the higher percentage of the support amount that parent must pay, and vice versa.
Public assistance, including Social Security or any cash assistance, does not count towards a parent’s net income. The net income is the amount a parent takes home after federal/state/local taxes, mandatory dues, retirement benefit payments, social security payments, alimony to the other parent, and so on. A full copy of these guidelines can be accessed at the county’s domestic relations office.
What happens if Child Support is not paid?
Typically, the court orders that child support payments are taken directly from the parent’s paychecks, in the form of an automatic withdraw from the employer. If a parent regularly fails to pay child support, the court may require the payment amount to be increased to make up for the deficit. They may also legally seize personal property and bank account funds. If the parent falls behind by three or more months, his or her driver’s license, hunting license, and even professional license may be suspended until payments are made. Jail time may be ordered if payment failure continues, or willfully fails to pay.
Can Child Support orders be modified?
Yes, in Pennsylvania, child support orders can be modified pending a significant change in the current situation. This usually applies to notable increases or decreases in either parent’s income. Parents are required to report these changes within a week of occurrence to the county’s domestic relations office. Once the proper form is filled out to request a hearing, a domestic relations officer will hold a conference with both parents present.
Understanding Child Support law in Pittsburgh
Child support law changes frequently; make this difficult time easier by consulting a law firm that stays up to date with current regulations and policies. Joseph Horowitz is experienced in family law practice and child support cases in the Pittsburgh area and can help you understand and make the most of your current situation. We will give you professional, sensible assistance regarding your specific situation. Contact us today at (412) 406-6082 to set up a consultation.