According to Pennsylvania law, parents are liable for the support of any unemancipated children who are 18 years old or younger, and must continue to pay child support until they reach 18 years of age or graduate from high school, whichever date is later. However, parents may be liable for child support beyond the child’s 18th birthday and graduation date if he or she has a physical, mental or emotional disability.
In calculating a child support obligation, Pennsylvania has established statewide guidelines addressing how support is to be calculated, what is to be considered in the calculation, what a child’s reasonable needs and expenses are, and ultimately, what the child support obligation will be. The attorneys at Burns White can run these calculations in advance of a child support conference to provide you with a range of projected support.
In most circumstances, the court will consider each individual’s net income, including but not limited to all compensation sources, bonuses, commissions, dividends, royalties, rents, etc. The court may also entertain arguments that one party has a particular “earning capacity,” which may result in a child support obligation based upon what that party should be earning, and not what he/she is actually earning.
While there are few arguments that can be made to avoid a child support obligation, there are arguments that may be made to deviate from the standard guideline, including but not limited to: custody arrangements, private school tuitions, unusual medical expenses, etc.
Under Pennsylvania law, a child support obligation is always modifiable based upon a substantial change in circumstances. As such, support orders may be modified several times before a child reaches emancipation.