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How child support is calculated in Pennsylvania

Across the country, including in Pennsylvania, child support disputes are a common occurrence following divorce. Most parents understand that they have a legal responsibility to support their children after a divorce until the children can stand on their own or become adults. Every state requires such support because children of divorced or separated parents can be easily deprived of some of their financial needs after divorce, which forces them to rely on governmental assistance.

In the typical child support case, the noncustodial parent is required to pay the support to the custodial parent; which parent is granted custody happens in the final stages of a divorce. The total amount of child support is based on the income of both parents and the number of children who need support. The amount should be enough to meet the children's basic financial needs. Parents can calculate their net income by determining their monthly gross income and subtracting alimony paid to the other party, mandatory union dues, payments to a retirement plan, unemployment compensation, Social Security payments, and state, federal and local income taxes. If, for example, both parties determine that the children's expenses total $900 and the noncustodial parent earns two-thirds of the total combined income of the parties, then the noncustodial parent may have to pay $600 each month.

If the noncustodial parent has other child support obligations already in effect, the court may reduce the amount of child support that the parent has to pay. Regardless of the circumstances, the amount of support should be fair and just for both the children and the supporting parent.

Custodial parents facing child support issues can contact their local domestic relations offices to determine how they can obtain child support. If they are in the middle of a divorce, they can speak with their legal representatives, who will explain these issues and help them create a support agreement or obtain court-ordered child support that will benefit their children.

Source: PALawHelp.org, "Child Support," accessed on Oct. 19, 2014

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