Montgomery County Child Support Attorney
Child support is often a tricky and frustrating system for parents throughout Pennsylvania. Whether child support is between divorced parents or parents who were never married, child support can be a sore issue between parents. On either side of the issue, whether you pay or receive child support – or are trying to start paying or receiving child support – there are many issues that are best resolved with the advice of a lawyer.
If you live in Montgomery County, and you are looking for an attorney to help you figure out what to do about child support, contact the Law Offices of Sadek and Cooper. Sadek and Cooper serves Philadelphia, Delaware County, Montgomery County, and Bucks County, handling a wide range of family law matters. Whether you are being asked to pay child support or asking to receive child support, Sadek and Cooper can represent you to help you get the child support system in Pennsylvania to work fairly.
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How is Child Support Determined in Pennsylvania?
First, it is important to understand some language that comes into play with child support. With child custody, there are two parents who are considered (it does not include step parents). The parent who has physical custody of the child most of the time is called the “custodial parent.” While custody is often shared with the other parent, that parent still has “legal custody,” but is referred to as the “non-custodial” parent. Because the custodial parent has the child living with them, they are paying directly for the child’s care. The non-custodial parent is the one who pays child support. The person paying support is often called the “obligor” or “payor”, because they are “obligated” to pay. The recipient is called the “obligee” or “payee.”
The rules for child support are laid out in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure under Rule 1910, along with the rules for alimony. Rule 1910.16-3 through 1910.16-7 lay out the rules for how child support is calculated. The basic rule for child support starts by determining the monthly cost of raising a child – the “Basic Child Support” – which shifts based on the combined incomes of the parents. There is a table in Rule 1910.16-3 that accounts for incomes up to $30,000 per month (combined for both parents). For example $2,500 per month ($30,000 annually), one child is calculated to cost $588, two children cost $848, etc. The table calculates incomes from $950 per month to $30,000 per month, for up to six children. There are formulas for greater incomes or more children.
The rest of the calculation for child support is found in a large worksheet in Rule 1910.16-4. This worksheet can be pretty overwhelming and involves quite a bit of math. The Rule takes each parent’s percent share of their income, and the amount of time they have the child (another percentage), and changes that Basic Child Support number to account for these differences. Whichever parent makes more money is expected to pay more money. The payor is the non-custodial parent, and the Rule assumes that they have custody 30% of the time. If they have custody more than 40% of the time, then their child support number is reduced, as they are paying for the child’s care directly when the child is with them.
There are plenty of ways that an attorney can show that these numbers need to change, based on other needs and responsibilities of each party. Without bringing an attorney, you could get stuck paying too much or receiving too little child support.
How Are Child Custody Rights Defined in Pennsylvania?
Whether you and your child or children’s other parent are married and going through the complex process of divorce, or if you barely have any contact with the other parent at all, it is important to understand your rights with respect to child custody. Under Pennsylvania law, child custody is broken down into two distinct parts. It is crucial that you, as a parent understand the difference between physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is what most parents think of when they think of child custody. It is basically exactly what it sounds like. A parent that is granted the right to have physical custody of your child is the parent the child lives with and physically spends time with. When a child’s parents do not both reside in the same household, there is a question as to which parent will have physical custody and when. In Pennsylvania, physical custody can be held by one parent or shared by both parents.
Legal custody describes one or both parent’s ability to make important life decisions for the child. These life decisions may include the type of education the child will receive, how the child will be raised if he or she will be raised in a certain religion and many other important aspects of the child’s life. Legal custody also comes with the responsibility to make important medical and financial decisions for the child.
What if I Can’t Afford Child Support or Want to Change It?
Child support is usually contained in a court order or an agreement between the parties. That means that it cannot be changed without modifying the agreement or the order. Changing an agreement is as simple as getting both parties – each parent – to agree to a change. I say this is “simple” rather than “easy,” because with child support, is it often very difficult for people to accept changes.
If the child support is court-ordered, then the situation is not as simple. Getting a change requires going to court and showing a “material and substantial change in circumstances” in order to get a court to grant the changes. Regardless of how much you may want to, stopping or reducing payments on your own can hold serious consequences including wage garnishment.
Contact a Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Child Support Attorney
If you are paying child support, receiving child support, or are currently trying to establish a child support routine, Sadek and Cooper can represent you. We represent clients going through divorces, or seeking child support without marriage. Whether you are a mother or a father, a payor or a payee, if you need legal representation in your Montgomery County child support case, call 215-814-0395.