When couples divorce in Pennsylvania, many are able to work out amicable arrangements without court orders. The non-custodial parent agrees to make regular contributions to expenses and parents work out who gets the children at various times of the month or year. However, this is not always the case.

For other couples, a child support order may become necessary. Forbes notes that the amount of money the noncustodial parent will need to pay as child support may depend on the income of both parents. The court may also factor in the following considerations:

  •          Who pays for school expenses, childcare and health care
  •          Percentage of time the children spend with each parent
  •          Amount of money also being paid for spousal support

Many former homemakers are surprised to learn this, but child support takes precedence over spousal support. They also often go hand-in-hand. For example, if later down the road, the courts determine that the noncustodial parent no longer needs to pay as much child support, they may lower the spousal support payments as well.

Ex-spouses that did not follow through with court-ordered child support because they had an amicable agreement can still file for one later. According to the PA Child Support Program, any person or government agency with custody of a child may file for child support. In fact, Pennsylvania encourages custodial parents or agents to file even when the noncustodial parent lives in another state.

Child support discussions can cause tensions to rise during a divorce. Because of this, many couples opt for voluntary and informal arrangements. However, if these plans fall through, many custodial parents find it comforting to know they can always file for child support at a later date.