In Pennsylvania, child support paid by one parent to the other parent is calculated using the “income shares” model so that each parent’s share of the basic support obligation is proportional to his or her monthly net income.
The amount of support will generally be based upon the parents’ combined monthly net incomes and the number of children being supported. Pennsylvania has adopted a chart showing the presumed amount of basic child support. We recommend following this PA child support calculator to get an idea of how much child support is expected per parent.
In determining a parent’s gross income for support purposes, domestic relations will include any wages a party earns from employment, any rent he or she collects, retirement income, certain benefits, lump sum awards such as lottery winnings, and any other money paid to that party.
If one parent is collecting alimony, that amount may also be included in that parent’s gross income. “Net income,” as defined by the rules governing child support, does not always equate to a party’s take-home pay reflected on a paystub.
Considering the following scenario: Paul and Mary are divorced and have two children. Mary has primary custody of the children, but Paul claims both children as dependents on his tax returns.
Paul and Mary both work 40 hours per week and get paid bi-weekly. Paul earns $20 per hour, but his employer requires that he contribute at least 5% of each paycheck to his pension plan. Mary earns $17.50 per hour, but as part of a union must pay $43.75 per pay in dues. Each parent’s net income for support purposes would be as follows:
|Monthly Gross Income*||$3,466.67|
|Net Income for Support:||$2,887.04|
|Monthly Gross Income*||$3,033.30|
|Net Income for Support:||$2,361.12|
*Monthly Gross Income is calculated by the following formula $20 x 80 hours x 26 pay periods /12 months.
Both parents’ net incomes, added together, total $5,248.16. Looking at the chart, their monthly basic child support obligation is $1,436.00.
Because Paul is the obligor, his monthly net income is divided by the total of the parties’ monthly net incomes to determine what percentage of the basic support amount he would pay.
$2,887 divided by $5,248.16 is 55.01%. 55.01% of $1,436.00 is $789.94. Therefore, Paul’s basic child support obligation is $789.94.
The basic child support obligation can be adjusted based on several factors such as health insurance premiums, childcare, and/or private school tuition. Those expenses can be allocated between the parents in proportion to their respective shares of the child support obligation.
In the example above, Paul’s income accounts for 55.01% of the basic child support obligation, while Mary’s income accounts for 44.99% of the basic child support obligation. If one of the children was in daycare which cost $500 per month then Paul would be responsible for $275.05 of that cost, while Mary would be responsible for $224.95 of the cost. If Paul were paying the entire $500 directly to the childcare provider, then his support obligation would be reduced to account for Mary’s share.
In addition to adjusting the basic child support obligation for health insurance premiums, childcare and/or private school tuition, the court may consider the mortgage on the marital residence, the custody arrangement, and the support obligation to any child not a part of the current situation.
While these can result in an adjustment to the basic child support obligation, the court will also, at times, hear argument on reasons to deviate from the calculation. However, any basis for deviation is very fact specific.
If you are thinking about filing for support, or a complaint for support has been filed against you, it is important to understand the procedure followed and what factors domestic relations will consider when calculating support.
A skilled family attorney can answer these questions and advocate on your behalf, whether at a conference or at a hearing. The attorneys at Johnson Duffie are experienced in handling support matters at all stages of the proceeding.