Child support laws in Pennsylvania are aimed at helping children have access to the necessities of life: shelter, nutrition, education, clothing, healthcare, etc. Child support allows the custodial parent to spread the cost of these necessities to the other parent. If you are paying child support, the cost of raising another child in your own household could seem daunting. Fortunately for parents of multiple children, you may be entitled to a reduction in child support payments if you have your own children to support. For help with your child support case, contact the Philadelphia child support modification lawyers at The Sadek and Cooper Law Offices today.
Calculating Child Support for Multiple Families in Pennsylvania
To calculate child support in Pennsylvania, courts use PA Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.16-3 and following. These contain a table for determining the monthly support amount. The court looks at the number of children the support order is for, and the combined income of both parents, and uses the table to find the starting amount. For instance, if parents have a combined monthly income of $2,000, and the order supports 2 children, courts will determine the children need $686 per month in support. This number is called the “basic child support obligation.” If the parents’ incomes are too high to appear in the table in Rule 1920.16.3, the court can use the formula in Rule 1910.16-3.1 instead.
This amount is not the final payment a parent must make for monthly child support. Instead, this number is adjusted based on the amount of time the payor has custody of the children, how much they contribute to health insurance, and other expenses they pay for. The adjustment for custody time assumes that the payor has physical custody for 30% of the year, so if the parent has them for more of the time, they get a reduced child support order. The payor should never have custody more than 50% of the time, or else they should be receiving support, not paying it.
You are also entitled to discounts if you support another family. The chart in Rule 1910.16-4 has a list of inputs and percentages used to calculate the final child support order. Lines 15 and 16 of this chart reduce the parent’s overall income by the amount they need to support another family, before calculating support. This reserves that money so that you can still pay your preexisting child support obligations, and may reduce the total amount of any additional orders. This calculation should also account for the day-to-day expenses for your other children that live in your house.
Discounted Child Support for Multiple Children
If you pay for multiple child support orders, or care for children through a child support order and have other children that you support in your own household, child support orders become quite expensive. Rule 1920.16-7 may help you if you pay more than 50% of your monthly income toward child support.
If you pay 50% or less of your monthly income toward child support, there may be no automatic relief. You may still be entitled to have child support orders adjusted if there are multiple orders, and older orders were not updated to take this into account. Talk to an attorney about modifying existing orders when new children come along.
If your support orders total more than 50% of your monthly income, the law may allow a reduction. This is a complicated point of child support law, and should be discussed with an experienced attorney to understand how the law applies to your specific situation. In general, the law wants to treat each child equally. Reducing one child support order would unbalance how much you pay per child. Instead, the court may actually reduce multiple orders to ensure children are treated equally.
If your child support orders are high enough, you may not have much money left for yourself. Rule 1910.16-2(e) sets some guarantees that you will have money to support yourself. This “Self-Support Reserve” often comes out to around $981 per month. If your total monthly income is less than $981, courts will have to make a close study of your actual finances before ordering you to pay any child support. If you are left with less than $981 after child support orders, courts may also adjust the amount to leave you with $981.
Especially if you are paying multiple child support orders, it is vital to talk to an attorney about lowering your child support payments. Never resort to self-help if your payments are too high. Failing to make child support payments, or paying a reduced amount, could put you in violation of the court’s child support order and trigger wage garnishment. Only modify your payments after the court has granted a petition to modify your child support order.
Philadelphia Child Support Modification Attorneys
For help modifying your child support order and reducing your child support payments, talk to an experienced Philadelphia family law attorney today. Our attorneys may be able to argue for reductions based on the total amount you pay, and the payments towards multiple children. For a free consultation on your case, call the family law offices of Sadek and Cooper at 215-814-0395 today.