If you have a minor child and you aren’t living with that child’s other parent, you are likely either paying or receiving child support or will be at some point in time while the child is under 18 years of age. This Newsletter is a very basic introduction to the various types of “Support” in Pennsylvania.
CHILD SUPPORT: Child support in Pennsylvania, as in many states, is calculated using Child Support Guidelines. This “Guideline Calculation” is actually a grid; on the one column of the grid, is the total net monthly income of both Parents and on the other side of the grid is the number of children. Support is an income based calculation in Pennsylvania. The total net monthly income of the parents will determine the total support figure for a child(ren). The parent not in child custody will pay the parent who has custody a percentage of that total support figure. If the Payor has 60% of the total income of both parents, the Payor pays 60% of this support figure. Until a person files for child support with the Court, there is no obligation to pay support.
There are issues in addition to the amount a party makes, i.e., is a party not employed or working part-time? Is there a child care payment being made; what about private school and summer camp. All of these issues will be hashed out in Court.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT/ALIMONY PENDENTE LITE (“APL”): If you and your spouse separate and one of you earns more money than the other, the spouse who earns more (Wage Dominant Spouse) pays the other spouse (Wage Dependent Spouse) either Spousal Support (paid before a Divorce Complaint is filed) or APL, which is paid after a Divorce Complaint is filed. There are other differences between the two, which space does not permit me to discuss here, but the calculation of these two methods of support are the same. The payment of both Spousal Support and APL begin after separation and generally continues until date of Divorce. There can be circumstances where this payment is for a shorter or for a defined period of time, but that is not generally the case. You have to file a Petition for Spousal Support or APL in order for the payment to be calculated and court ordered.
ALIMONY: Contrary to Pennsylvania folklore, Pennsylvania IS an alimony state. Alimony is paid from the date of divorce, generally for a stipulated number of months or years. There are a number of factors that go into the question of whether a particular divorce case is, in fact, an alimony case and therefore, alimony will be paid. The most important factors that a court examines is the length of the marriage (the longer the marriage, the longer the period of alimony), the health of the parties (if one party is ill and unable to work, this can extend an alimony period) and the work history of the parties.
These are complicated issues. It would be in a person’s best interest to consult a good family lawyer if confronted with such an issue. Let us know if we can help.