Child Support Lawyer
If you are a single parent currently caring for your child or you are going through a divorce, you need to address the matter of child support. While some single parents choose to move forward without requesting child support, we do not recommend forgoing the financial assistance your child is entitled to receive under the law. In Pennsylvania, both parents are required to financially support their children, even if they can only contribute a small amount each month. It is not your sole financial burden to pay for your child’s clothing, food, shelter, education, medical expenses, toys, and everything else he or she requires.
To arrange for child support with your son or daughter’s other parent or to petition a court to require child support, contact our experienced New Bloomfield child support lawyer at Czekaj Law, LLC. We know this may be a difficult time and situation for you. Our family attorney is here to guide you through this process with compassion while tenaciously protecting your and your child’s rights.
Who Pays Child Support?
If you are taking care of your child all or a majority of the time based on an agreement with the other parent or a court order, then you have the right to ask for child support from the other parent. You should contact an attorney about this matter right away. We can help you request child support through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and local Domestic Relations Section, or file a complaint with the appropriate office. Navigating the state’s resources or your county’s family court system can be difficult. We are here to explain your rights as a parent and guide you through obtaining child support.
If your child does not live with you, stays with you less than 50 percent of the year, or you simply earn more than the other parent, then you may receive a request for child support. You also have every right to obtain an attorney to protect your rights. We are happy to represent you as the paying parent to ensure a fair outcome to your case, and to make sure that you are receiving all appropriate credits or adjustments that are provided for under the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines.
How Pennsylvania Calculates Child Support
Pennsylvania uses an income shares model to determine child support. It starts by determining how much both parents would spend together on your child if you lived in the same household. This information is calculated by a formula and provided in the Monthly Basic Child Support Schedule. For example, if you and the other parent’s combined net incomes equal $5,000 a month and you have one child together, the basic child support obligation is $990. That is how much you are assumed to both spend on your child within a month. Then, based on each of your monthly earnings, the basic support amount is divided and an amount apportioned to each of you.
Is Child Support Affected by Custody?
Yes. The physical custody arrangement can impact the outcome of a child support calculation. If the physical custody arrangement is such that a paying parent has custody 40% of the time or more, a reduction in child support will be applied to the normal guideline amount. This reduction will increase as the paying parent’s physical custody gets closer to 50%. If you are the paying parent but you and your child’s mother or father share custody almost equally, contact us today. We can seek to have your child support obligation lowered to better align with the financial support you already provide your child when he or she is home with you.
How Paying and Receiving Child Support Works
In some situations, you may feel comfortable paying or receiving support directly to or from your child’s other parent. This may be advisable if you are able to cooperate with the other parent. You will likely be required to send payment once a month or bi-weekly. However, in most circumstances, you will be required, or more comfortable paying child support through the Domestic Relations Section who will process payments and disbursals of support through the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit (PA SCDU).
You can utilize the Pennsylvania Child Support Program’s website as both a paying and receiving parent. By making payments through the website, you have records of your full and timely payments, which means your child’s other parent can never wrongfully accuse you of getting behind on your obligation. As a recipient parent, you can set up direct deposit so you receive child support directly into your account.
Asking for a Child Support Modification
Both paying and recipient parents have the right to seek modification of the current child support in certain circumstances. A conference officer or judge will order an increase or decrease in a parent’s child support obligation if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances. If you are the paying parent, you can ask for a modification if you lose your job or your necessary expenses suddenly increase. As the recipient parent, you can ask for an adjustment if you are recently unemployed or your child’s needs have changed.
As of May 1, 2017, Pennsylvania updated its child support guidelines and the basic child support obligations increased slightly. If you are receiving child support, then you may be able to get a little more financial assistance. However, you will need to return to domestic relations or court to ask for a modification. The other parent’s child support obligation does not automatically increase when the state’s child support guidelines are revised.
Enforcing Your Right to Child Support
Once a child support order is finalized, the paying parent must make full and timely payments or face significant consequences. There can be both civil and criminal punishments for failing to pay child support.
If your child’s other parent is not paying the required monthly support, speak with us today about wage garnishment. We may be able to work with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (CSE) or return to court to have the other parent’s paychecks garnished, intercept tax refunds, seize legal settlements, or have a lien attached to his or her property.
The state can also revoke or restrict the non-paying parent’s driver’s license, recreational licenses, or professional licenses. If the parent continues to willfully refuse to pay child support, he or she can be found guilty of contempt of court and fined and jailed for up to six months.
Help With Coordinating Child Support in Pennsylvania
You can try and avoid the courtroom when dealing with a child support matter by working with state and local resources, including:
- The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Child Support Program
- The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ Bureau of Child Support Enforcement
- Juniata County Domestic Relations Section
- Domestic Relations Section locator
However, navigating state-provided and local resources is not always easy or free. It is better to work with an experienced child support attorney even when trying to avoid a court case. This can save you a great deal of time and energy, and in the long run, ensures you receive the support your child deserves as soon as possible.
Call Our New Bloomfield Child Support Lawyer For Help
Whether you are a parent who wishes to ask for child support or you believe you will be obligated to pay support, contact our New Bloomfield child support office today. Child support calculations are relatively straightforward under Pennsylvania law. However, they may be complicated if you work as a freelancer, are currently unemployed, or you and the other parent make more than $30,000 per month combined. In these situations, it may take more information and consideration to calculate an appropriate child support amount based on your income.
Whether you have a straightforward or complicated situation, we are here to help you establish a fair plan and child support arrangement. Call Czekaj Law, LLC at (717) 275-9770 to schedule a free legal consultation.