The term “child support” refers to the court-ordered financial support that parents must provide for the benefit of their children. Under Pennsylvania law, the amount of child support that a parent must pay is based on specific factors and calculated based on the state’s guidelines for child support; to this end, child support obligations across different families can be very different.
However, there are some important facts about child support that all families can benefit from knowing. Though child support is an issue that can come up during divorce, it is also a legal matter that arises between unmarried parents. Parents in all situations can choose to seek legal help with their child support questions, and Pennsylvania-based family law lawyers are available to guide them.
Fact 1: Defining income for child support can be tricky
When a court is tasked with deciding how much child support parents should pay, one factor it will look at is the parents’ incomes. Income, though, can be a broad term. In Pennsylvania, the following all constitute income for child support purposes, and readers should note that this list is incomplete:
- Wages from salaries and bonuses
- In-kind payments and royalties
- Dividends and annuities
- All retirement incomes
- Disability and workers’ compensation benefits
- Court or insurance settlements
Computing child support when so many potential sources of income are available can be hard, and family law professionals can help parents make sure those computations are done right.
Fact 2: Child support can change over time
Like child custody, which may be modified as time changes, child support can also be altered. In some cases, a parent’s ability to pay can change, such as if they lose their job or are seasonal employees. In others, a child may develop extra needs that require more financial support from their parents. When conditions warrant, child support orders can be modified.
Fact 3: Unpaid child support may be subject to enforcement measures
Child support is a court-ordered obligation. That means when a parent fails to pay it, they can be subject to different sanctions. For example, if a Pennsylvania parent becomes delinquent on their child support, they may have their missed payments taken through the state’s income tax or lottery winnings’ intercept programs. These programs direct funds toward the payment of child support instead of having them paid to the parent. Other enforcement measures may be used in different child support delinquency cases.
Child support is important and parents subject to court-orders regarding support have obligations they must fulfill. Getting child support right can be tough, but all parents have the option of discussing their family law needs with trusted local attorneys.