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Important facts about child support in Pennsylvania

Raising a child in Scranton, Pennsylvania, is not an easy task, especially if both parents are no longer living together. The income of what was formerly a single household now has to support two families, while still adjusting with the other sudden changes that divorce brings. Still, both parents understand that they have to support their children financially. Child support laws were created to ensure parents provide financial support to children from divorced or unmarried parents.

Parents should know the basics of child support before requesting financial aid from their ex-spouses. First and foremost, the parent who spends less time with the children, also known as the non-custodial parent, is required to pay the support. The support will be given to the custodial parent or the parent who takes care of the children. Generally, child support is paid until the child reaches the age of 18 or when the child has graduated high school. Parents are not required to pay the college expenses unless both parties have created an agreement regarding college expenses as part of the divorce settlement.

The court considers several factors with regard to the amount of child support, such as the income of both parents, the number of children who require support and the responsibilities of the supporting party, including alimony or spousal support. The court considers an amount that is enough to cover the everyday expenses of the child, such as education and healthcare. While the guidelines may suggest that there is a rigid formula to determine the amount of child support to be paid, the ultimate decision is in the hands of the court.

Many things can change after the court's initial order. For example, a parent may lose a job or the child may have new expenses. When these changes occur, the parents may need to request a modification to the child support order. A legal professional can suggest numerous options on how to deal with similar cases.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, "Pennsylvania Child Support Handbook," accessed Oct. 3, 2014

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