If you have been ordered to pay child support in Pennsylvania, your first goal may be to figure out a way to stop paying child support. On the other hand, if you are receiving child support payments from your children’s other parent, you may be worried that the money may suddenly come to an end. Fortunately, the rules for when child support may be modified or terminated are pretty clear in Pennsylvania. If you are trying to end child support payments, or want to fight to continue receiving child support, talk to an attorney today. The Philadelphia child support modification lawyers at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices may be able to help you file the proper paperwork, and fight to represent your needs in court.
Ending Child Support in PA
Child support is intended to support children who live outside the parent’s household until they become adults. In Pennsylvania, child support automatically ends when the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last. That means that if your child’s birthday is during their senior year of high school, your support will end in May/June with their graduation. If their birthday is after graduation, you may be required to continue to support them until they turn 18. However, after that point, there may still be expectations for child support, such as paying for college tuition.
Child support cannot typically be ended, outright – someone must always support the child until they become adults. The burden of caring for the child’s daily needs and day-to-day expenses typically falls to the parent who has physical custody of the child. The other parent is required to pay their fair share of money towards that support. The amount ordered often depends on the parents’ combined income, and scales appropriately. This means that even if the parent paying support makes very little income, there will still be a specific amount ordered for monthly payments (though it will be a comparatively small amount).
If you want to reduce your child support payments, or attempt to have a judge cancel your child support obligations, you must go to court first. You should never stop paying child support or reduce child support payments on your own. Failing to pay support can mean having your wages garnished by the court. If you are more than 12 weeks behind on payments, courts may even take an additional 5% of your paycheck to pay towards child support.
Lastly, child support orders never terminate automatically. Even when the child turns 18 or graduates from college, you must still go to court to have the order terminated. When this happens, the parent receiving payments should be notified and have a chance to appear in court against the petition to terminate. This means that child support will never be spontaneously dropped, and must continue to be paid as ordered until a court officially says otherwise.
When Can Child Support Be Changed in PA?
Child support will often continue at the same amount that was ordered until a court says otherwise. The same is true for termination. You must continue paying child support in the amount that was ordered until you file a petition for modification or termination, and the judge accepts the petition. Even if you know child support is unfair or no longer necessary, do not stop paying without court approval.
Child support can only be modified or terminated after you show a “material and substantial change in circumstances.” This can include many different things, but usually involves some big, economic life change. Some common examples of “material and substantial” changes may include:
- Either parent getting a higher- or lower-paying job;
- Either parent losing their job;
- Sudden injury or medical conditions for either parent (or the child);
- The birth (or adoption) of additional children to support;
- Either spouse moving-in with another family;
- Either spouse caring for a parent or another loved one; or
- Any other large financial changes.
These kinds of changes usually affect these three, important factors for child support calculation:
- The total income both parents make;
- The number of children the support order pays for; and
- The number of other children each parent supports.
That means that changes in these areas are often the most “material” changes courts see. For instance, if a father is paying child support, but his new partner gives birth to another child, he may be entitled to a reduction in child support payments, now that he has another mouth to feed. Alternatively, if the parent who has physical custody of the supported children loses their job, the other parents payments may change because the total combined income of the parents changed.
Philadelphia Child Support Modification Lawyers
The Philadelphia family law attorneys at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices may be able to help you get child support orders modified, or fight against petitions for modification. For a free consultation on your child support case, call our lawyers today at 215-814-0395.