Child and Spousal Support
All parents, married or unmarried, are obligated to contribute to the financial support of their minor children. Pennsylvania Support Guidelines provide a formula for calculating basic support for food, clothing and shelter. Considerations in calculating basic support include each parent’s income or earning capacity and the number of children eligible to receive support. In addition to basic child support, the Guidelines also provide a framework for determining payment of other essential expenses like health care insurance coverage for the children, private or parochial school tuition and child care related to a parent working or being in an educational program to get a job. The number of overnights the children have with a parent may reduce the amount of child support.
As you might imagine, this task often proves challenging and stressful because it can highlight financial and parenting differences. If conflict escalates, the children suffer.
Spousal support is a form of financial assistance that may be paid by one spouse to the other spouse during the couple’s period of separation and before a court enters a divorce decree. Like child support, the amount of spousal support to be paid is calculated based on a formula found in the statewide Pennsylvania Support Guidelines.
There are some defenses that may prevent a spouse from receiving support. These defenses raise issues that are often emotionally charged and accompanied by a lot of adversarial court proceedings.
Alimony refers to periodic payments that a spouse may receive after the court enters a divorce decree that terminates the marriage. Alimony may be appropriate if financially a spouse will be unable to support themselves after the divorce or will need to pursue education or training to get a job and become financially independent. In Pennsylvania, alimony is a secondary remedy, meaning that it is more likely to be awarded where the division of marital property does not provide sufficient resources to enable the financially dependent spouse to pay for reasonable living expenses after the divorce.
There are a variety of factors, such as the relative earnings of the parties and the standard of living established during the marriage that must be considered in determining whether a spouse is entitled to receive alimony post-divorce. Unlike child support or spousal support, there is no formula for calculating the amount or duration of alimony payments. The result is that spouses are often “stuck” in an adversarial environment that is time-consuming and costly.
MODIFICATIONS TO ALIMONY, CHILD SUPPORT AND CUSTODY
One thing that we can be certain of in life is that nothing is certain. Life constantly changes and evolves, and so too does your family situation. People change jobs, they move, children grow and change. For that reason, child support awards and child custody arrangements are always modifiable and alimony may be modifiable in some circumstances.
Alimony is modifiable only if the parties’ marital settlement agreement or court order allows for modification. If so I can help you and your ex-spouse reach an agreement on a permissible modification of the alimony amount or duration.
Child Support is modifiable if there is a substantial and continuing change in a parent’s financial circumstances – perhaps one parent was laid off from a job, or another received a promotion and an increase in pay. Traditionally, a parent seeking a modification of a child support order would have to petition the court and show a change in circumstances. In most counties, this involves a multi-step process that can become quite expensive and take months or years to complete. If one parent is self-employed, it may be necessary to obtain and review specific financial documents that are not volunteered, resulting in time-consuming and costly discovery processes. I can help you and your co-parent work together in a timely and cost-efficient manner to find a support amount that addresses the children’s financial needs and preserves the parental relationship.
Want to Know More?
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss the options available to resolve your divorce, custody issues, support, or equitable distribution issues, please contact me and I can help you investigate your options. Call me, Lenore M.J. Myers, at 215-470-3121 or email me at email@example.com.