Many of my family law clients ask me “How much can I expect to pay in child support?” or they ask, “How much will Domestic Relations order my ex to pay in child support?” The answer to this question is not a simple one.
In Pennsylvania, child support orders issued by Domestic Relations are based on a somewhat complicated formula that is based on several factors, including:
- the parties’ average incomes
- which party has “primary custody” of the child/children
- the amount of custody time (usually the number of overnights) the child/children spend with the noncustodial parent
- which parent provides health insurance
- the amounts expended for childcare and who pays them
- other expenses paid by one party or the other for the child/children
- any other child or spousal support obligations of either party
The PA Department of Health & Human Services provides a child support estimator. This estimator is not a substitute for speaking with an attorney and possibly having representation at a hearing or conference. The estimator, and the formula it is based on, do not take into account any “deviations”that a parent may be entitled to, particularly if they have a disability or large, fixed expenses that prevent them from paying the “guideline” amount. Also, the parties are free to negotiate amounts different from the support guidelines.
At a child support conference or hearing, it is vital to present evidence of any and all of the above factors and possible deviations. An attorney can help. If you have a question about child support, contact my office.