How Child Support is Actually Determined

How exactly is child support determined?   You might think that child support is determined by a judge who arbitrarily comes up with a number that they think is fair.   You might also think, and possibly fear, that your child’s other parent will be able to trick or convince a judge or other official into awarding you a smaller amount of child support than you actually deserve.  Neither could be further from the truth.  

In most cases child support is determined by a specific mathematical formula that has been determined by the Pennsylvania legislature.  This formula considers both parents income, the number of children and the amount of custody each parent has as well as some additional considerations.  The formula is used to establish guidelines for awarding child support and these guidelines cannot be deviated from except in very specific and special circumstances.  Because these guidelines are not discretionary, meaning a judge or master cannot arbitrarily deviate from them, no amount of pleading with the Court will help a parent avoid paying what the Pennsylvania legislature and courts have decided is fair.   

The amount of child support can however change over time based on a change in employment, a determination by the court of earning capacity and other factors.  You need an attorney who knows how to ensure that the amount of child support you are paying or receiving is appropriate.