Caring Advocacy in Child Support Matters:
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When parents live separately and one parent has primary physical custody (meaning that the child spends more than 50% of overnights living with that parent), the non-custodial parent may be ordered by the Court to provide financial assistance to the custodial parent to help defray the expenses associated with raising the child. Additionally, where parents share custodial time equally the higher earning parent may be ordered to provide financial assistance to the lower earning parent to equalize the child’s standard of living in both households. This is regarded as a legal right of the child, not the custodial parent, as the Court is obligated to act in the child’s best interest.
The Court plays two roles in the administration of Child Support – determining the amount of support to be paid and ensuring that the mandated payments are actually made.
How does the Court decide how much Child Support to award?
The Family Court system has established guidelines for judges to use when setting Child Support. These guidelines take into effect a variety of factors including the non-custodial parent’s income as a share of total household income, the number of children and any special needs the children may have. The Court can deviate from the guidelines with sufficient justification. Courts can also adjust the amount of support in the future based on changing circumstances such as a change in the cost of living, significant changes in income for either parent or changes to the child’s needs, such as a need for ongoing medical treatment. In every case, the amount of support awarded is intended to ensure that the child’s needs are fully met.
What if the non-custodial parent doesn’t pay the mandated Child Support?
While the overwhelming majority of parents willingly pay their Child Support in full and on time, there are occasions where the checks rarely show up on time, if ever. In these instances, the custodial parent can return to court and ask a judge to intervene. Pennsylvania’s Bureau of State Child Support Enforcement works together with the Court to aggressively seek unpaid support. Frequently, the result is a child support withholding order that leads to the mandated payments being garnished from the non-custodial parent’s paycheck and forwarded directly to the custodial parent. In cases of persistent payment delinquency, the owed support can be withheld from tax returns and/or personal assets and real estate can be seized and sold to generate the money owed.
Unmarried Parents and Child Support
When the parents of the child are not married, the mother may be forced to legally establish the father’s paternity through DNA testing, if necessary. Once paternity is established, the court will issue a child support order in a manner similar to any situation where parents do not live together.
What if the non-custodial parent moves to another state?
Again, most parents voluntarily continue to make Child Support payments after they move to another state. When that is not the case, however, the Revised Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act provides the mechanisms by which a support order issued in one state can by enforced by the courts of another state.
Child Support payments can have a profound effect on a child’s quality of life following the divorce or separation of their parents. Liebmann Family Law has the tools and the experience to help ensure your child has the resources they need to live a happy, healthy life.