Child support payments are regular payments from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent, that covers the cost of raising a child. The custodial parent is usually the parent with more than 50% overnight with the child. In a joint custody situation, child support is payable to the parent with less income by the parent with more income.
Once the court determines who receives child support payments, they’ll draw up a child support order. A judge typically issues the child support order in any lawsuit that addresses parent-child relationships, such as a divorce. The order contains how much a parent is to pay, when he should pay, and how often he’s to make such payments.
You should know that there’s no standard amount for child support payments or a standard method for its calculation across the country. Since laws and regulations regarding child support differ by state, each state’s formula for calculating payments will also be different.
Local child support lawyers West Chester PA, are knowledgeable in state child support laws. They’ll be helpful when you have to decide an appropriate child support payment.
How a Court Determines Child Support Payments
Pennsylvania courts use the state’s basic child support guidelines in determining a child support obligation. This guideline is a chart that reflects what the state believes is enough to support the child.
In calculating the guideline amount, the first step is to determine the combined monthly net income of both parents. This income includes salaries, bonuses, commissions, interests, and other earnings, after deducting taxes.
Then divide each parent’s monthly net income by their combined income to determine the percentage that each parent contributes to the combined income. Based on the combined income and the number of children, the court looks into the guidelines to get a monthly child support obligation.
The next step is to multiply the monthly obligation by each parent’s percentage of the combined monthly net income. The result gives the court the individual support amount each parent is to pay monthly.
Some online calculators can give you this guideline amount if you’d like to calculate before going to court. However, it’s best to work with the guidance of child support lawyers in West Chester, PA, when you’re calculating.
Adjusting the Guideline Amount
The state’s guidelines only determine a basic child support payment, which may not be appropriate in all cases. For instance, it’s more expensive to raise a child in West Chester than in certain parts of Pennsylvania. Yet, the same guidelines apply across the state.
To get a fair amount, the court may increase or decrease the basic child support payment based on certain factors. Some of these factors include
- Child support and alimony both parents pay or receive from previous marriages
- Union dues either parent is required to pay from their monthly income
- The child’s age
- The child’s standard of living before the separation
- Additional child expenses such as health insurance and daycare cost
Child support calculations are not always straight-forward; neither are they the same for every case. They’re beyond plugging in numbers and getting figures from the child support guidelines. It’s best to have knowledgeable child support lawyers in West Chester, PA, to ensure a fair child support payment.