How is Child Support Determined after a Divorce?

When you’re getting divorced in Pennsylvania and you have children, one of the most challenging aspects of the process is the determination of child support. At its most basic, child support addresses the financial needs of the child, and the state provides a set of guidelines and a formula that quickly and easily arrives at a straightforward number. But child support often entails far more than the state’s mathematical calculation of basic needs, and each individual situation needs to be looked at with an eye to the particulars of the family.

The Pennsylvania state child support guidelines plug in the amount of money that each parent makes, the number of overnights that the child spends with each parent, the number of children and their ages, then calculates what the financial obligation of the parent paying support will be. But the calculation is referred to as a guideline for a reason, and that reason is that every situation is different and can be affected by numerous variables. These variables can include the calculation of the division of assets, the financial needs of each spouse, whether either spouse has other support obligations or outside sources of income, the costs of a child’s medical care that aren’t covered by health insurance, and what the child’s standard of living was prior to the divorce.

There will be questions that need to be addressed about which party will be able to take a tax deduction for the child as a dependent, and whether one or both parent should take out life insurance to cover expenses in case they pre-decease the child reaching the age of majority. Other issues that need to be taken into consideration include the costs of child care and camp, health insurance, private school and tutoring, and costs that arise as a child matures, including auto insurance or the cost of a vehicle, college tuition, braces, and more.

Many of these issues — and many others — need to be negotiated separately and apart from weekly child support and failing to do so prior to a divorce being finalized can mean that an adversarial position will remain long into the future. And that’s why it is so important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who will take the time to listen to your needs and then work hard to represent them on your behalf. To discuss how we can help, contact our office today to set up a convenient time for a consultation.