In today’s Divorce Academy video Kevin explains how child support is calculated in Pennsylvania as of January 1st, 2019.
Hey everyone. Welcome to Divorce Academy. I’m Kevin Handy, and I’m one of the attorney mediators here at SnapDivorce. In today’s Divorce Academy, we are going to talk about how child support is calculated in Pennsylvania. To start off, I want to go over a few things you need to keep in mind from the outset when you’re thinking about how child support is calculated in Pennsylvania.
Child Support in Pennsylvania is Paid to the Parent with Primary Custody of the Child.
The first thing is, is that child support is always payable to the parent with primary custody of the children. By that I mean, the parent who has more than 50% of the overnights with the children. So, you have to look at where the children are spending their overnights. If a parent has more than 50% of the time, that’s the parent that is going to be getting child support. It doesn’t matter who makes more money, it’s not an income-based formula.
In Equally Shared Custody, Child Support in Pennsylvania is Paid to the Lower-Earning Parent.
There is one exception, and that is in the case of equally shared custody. If you and the other parent share custody equally – you have an equal amount of overnights in any given year, In that case, child support is going to be paid by the person with the higher income to the person with the lower income.
Alimony Must Be Determined Before Child Support in Pennsylvania
The second thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to determine if there’s an APL, spousal support, or alimony order payable from one party to another. And of course, that’s only going to apply to cases where the couple has been married. If a couple has children but never married, that’s not something you have to worry about. But if you have been married, you have to determine whether there is an APL or spousal support order first. That’s new in 2019 because as you may know the federal government changed the law with regard to the deductibility of alimony from your federal taxes. The result was that Pennsylvania modified the law on both how alimony and child support was calculated in Pennsylvania. Again, if you’ve been married you have to determine that first.
A Parent Paying Child Support with More than 40% Custody Gets a Discount on Child Support in Pennsylvania
The third thing to keep in mind is that there is a discount for parents who are going to be paying child support but have at least 40% of the overnights with the children. I’m not going to cover that discount here, but if you’re in the position where you’re going to have to be paying child support you should be aware that if you have more than 40% of the overnights that you’re going to be eligible for a discount on what you have to pay.
The Amount of Child Support in Pennsylvania is Dependent on the Number of Children Subject to the Order
The fourth thing to keep in mind is how much the child support order is, is dependent on the number of children that are going to be subject to the order.
Additional Child Care Expenses are Spit in Proportion to the Parent’s Relative Incomes
Finally, keep in mind that there are additional expenses. Let me just start with the notion that the first thing the courts going to do is determine what the basic child support number is going to be. That’s going to be based on the two parent’s relative incomes, how many children, and a formula. After that, the courts going to assign a percentage of what I call “additional expenses” that are going to have to be paid by the parents. That includes things like private school tuition, daycare (that’s a big one), and health insurance. Those additional expenses are going to be above the basic child support number, they are going to be split by the parties in proportion to their relative incomes. That will make a little bit more sense when I go over the sample calculation next.
A Sample Child Support Calculation
So, let’s move on to a sample calculation. If you watched my video, How Alimony is Calculated in Pennsylvania you’ll kind of understand where the alimony number came from. If not, and you’ve been married, or have a souse, you might want to look at that video. If you’ve never been married you can just ignore the alimony number. But the formula, in general, is going to be the same. In my example, we have two children in this support calculation, we have the person with partial custody making $5,000 a month and the parent with primary custody making $3,000 a month. The person with $5,000 a month in income is going to be the obligor, they are going to owe child support to the obligee- the parent with $3,000 a month. Remember, it’s not based on the incomes, the obligee in this example has primary custody of the children.
These numbers, the $5,000 and $3,000 numbers, these are the party’s net incomes after taxes per month. In the alimony video, we found out that the obligor is going to owe the obligee $350 per month in APL or spousal support. So, the first step in calculating child support is to subtract that amount from the obligor’s income and add it to the obligee’s income. That leaves the obligor $4,650 and it raises the obligee’s income to $3,350 per month. You add those two numbers together and you get a combined monthly net income of $8,000 per month. That number is going to be useful for a couple of purposes.
The next step is you have to figure out what percentage of the income does the obligor has and the obligee has of the combined monthly net. We take the obligor’s monthly net income of $4,650 and divide it by $8,000, and we find that the obligor has 58% of the combined monthly net income. We do the same thing for the obligee: $3,350 per month divided by $8,000 and the obligee has 42% of the combined monthly net income.
The next step in calculating child support is to take the combined monthly net income of $8,000 and look up what the basic child support number is on the Pennsylvania child support chart. Pennsylvania puts out a chart that you basically correspond to how much the combined monthly net income is with the number of children and it gives you a number for basic child support. You can look this chart up on the internet, we will put a link to it at the bottom of our video. But in our example, we look up $8,000 a month and we look under the column for two children and it gives us a number of $1,795 per month. That is the basic child support obligation. To find out what the obligor owes the obligee, you multiply that number by the obligor’s percentage of the combined monthly net income (58%). So, $1,795 X 58% equals $1,041.10. That is going to be the amount of child support that the obligor owes the obligee per month.
Now, as I said before, it’s not income dependent, so if it so happens that the obligor had primary custody of the children then the obligee would owe the obligor money, and you would just multiply the $1,795, instead of the 58%, you would multiply it by 42% and that might be about $800 per month, roughly. That’s what the obligee would owe the obligor.
The final factor is, you think, okay are there any additional expenses. Maybe there are daycare expenses, and let’s say daycare expenses are $1,000 per month. In that example, you are going to split that $1,000 a month. The obligor is going to owe 58% of it, so $580 per month and the obligee is going to owe 42%, so $420 per month. That’s how they would split that additional expense.
So basically, that’s how child support is calculated in Pennsylvania. Hope this was helpful. I’ll see you next time on Divorce Academy.
Basic Child Support Number: Link