Does Child Support Increase with Age?

Despite Pennsylvania’s strict guidelines surrounding child support, the issue is highly emotional and often contentious. The state’s rules establish specific amounts of money to be provided by each parent in support of their minor children, based upon the number of children, the combined monthly net income of both parents, and the percentage of that combined income each parent earns. The guidelines are based upon the state’s calculation of what they assess the actual expenses of an intact family living in a single household to be: they do not distinguish between children’s ages.

That being said, the guideline numbers themselves do increase intermittently to reflect changes in the cost of living. Parents who receive child support are advised to check whether the guidelines have changed each year, as the state does not automatically increase the amount that is collected or paid out: even if the guidelines are increased, parents need to file for a modification of their existing child support order in order to receive the state’s increase.

It is important to note that child support guidelines are just that: they are recommendations from which your attorney can work. Child support is an element of the divorce proceeding that can be negotiated between the parties, and many divorce agreements will specifically address the changing needs of children as they grow older. As children get older, their clothing may become more expensive, their daycare needs may be replaced with the cost of tutoring or camp or extracurricular activities that incur additional fees. Parents who are both interested in providing for the needs of their children can agree to terms that address these issues in a way that is in the best interests of their kids.

Child support can also be increased – or decreased – if either parent’s income changes significantly. Again, this adjustment will not happen automatically. The only way to have the child support amount that you are paying or receiving changed is to file a petition for modification with the court. This petition must be supported by solid reasoning and evidence, which may include promotions, demotions, or job losses; increases in the costs of medical insurance or child care; and dramatic increases in other child-rearing costs.

Our experienced attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of child support. Contact us today to set up a time to meet.