A parent holding a baby's hand

What is Child Support?

When parents of a child are no longer together, there can be disputes over money, especially in regards to how much each parent should be contributing to the child’s needs. In Pennsylvania, our courts are in charge of overseeing the process of making sure that children are provided for by both of their parents in these situations. Child support is the money typically paid by a noncustodial parent to provide food, clothing and shelter for his or her children. These payments can also include covering medical, schooling, and childcare costs.

1. Calculating Child Support in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, child support is determined based on the parties’ combined monthly net income and the number of children involved. The Pennsylvania courts use the child support guidelines when determining child support matters. The guidelines can be found in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, Pa. R.C.P. 1910.16-1 to Pa. R.C.P. 1910.16.7.

Child Support is payable to the parent who has primary custody of the children. In the case that the parents have equal custody of the child, then child support will be paid by the parent who has the higher income to the parent who has the lower income.

2. What is Retroactive Child Support?

Retroactive child support is granted when a custodial parent petitions for child support payments from the other parent for the period where there was no court order for child support.

In Pennsylvania, the custodial parent is unable to claim retroactive child support back to the birth of the child. In order to receive retroactive payments, a court order for child support must be submitted to the courts. Once the order has been submitted, the non-custodial parent is then obligated to make payments up until the hearing. For example, if the order was submitted in April but the hearing isn’t until May, that is one month of retroactive support. These payments are all based on the filing for support with the courts, not the birth of the child.

In short, failing to file for child support means you have no enforceable right to child support. If you believe you should get child support, you should file immediately.

3. What does it mean when it says child support is “in arrears?”

A debt that is “in arrears” is a debt that is overdue. There are two specific types of arrears: assigned, and unassigned. An assigned child support arrears refers to unpaid child support that is given to the state. This means that the custodial parent is on public assistance with the state and the missing child support payments are used to reimburse the state for financially supporting the child. An unassigned child support arrears refers to the back child support that goes directly to the custodial parent, if that parent has never received state or federal public assistance. The custodial parent is entitled to all the money that the non-custodial parent has not paid.

Conclusion: Call a Custody Attorney today

If you’re in the midst of the process of disputing custody or child support, it’s vital to have an experienced family law attorney to help you through the process. Call Cornerstone Law Firm and schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys so we can give you advice on your situation and help you through the process.