Child support in Pennsylvania can be complex. While there is a formula involved, many factors must be considered, including the child’s needs and the income of both parents. However, if you remarry, you might be wondering whether your new spouse’s paycheck could impact child support payments. The answer can be tricky — while remarriage does not automatically trigger an increase in child support, child support may be modified if there is a change in circumstances.
Child support in Pennsylvania is governed by guidelines that were established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. These guidelines determine how much child support a parent should pay, depending upon both parents’ net monthly incomes and the number of children. Under the Pennsylvania child support “income shares” model, a parent’s share of child support must be proportionate with their monthly net income.
The following may be considered sources of income in determining Pennsylvania child support:
There is a “rebuttable presumption” under Pennsylvania law that the amount of child support determined by the guidelines is the correct amount that should be paid. However, this means that there can be an exception to the rule, such as a court finding that the guidelines would result in an injustice. A court may deviate from the guidelines in certain circumstances — such as when a party has other support obligations, there is other income coming into the household, and to meet the best interests of the children.
Pennsylvania child support orders aren’t always set in stone. A parent may request that an existing custody order be modified if there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the support order was entered by the court. In such cases, a judge will review the financial documentation of both parents and any other evidence that is relevant.
Circumstances that might justify a modification of child support can include an involuntary loss of income, a significant increase in income, a change to the child’s needs, or a change in alimony. A modification may also be awarded if there has been a change in custody or another change in circumstance has occurred. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s Child Support Program will send each parent a notice every three years asking if they would like to have the case reviewed.
If you recently remarried, you might wonder “does new spouse income count for child support?” Importantly, biological and adoptive parents are both financially responsible for supporting their children — but a new spouse is not responsible for supporting children from your previous marriage. This means that if you are paying child support, and your former spouse remarries, the court is not going to look at their new spouse’s income to determine whether you should pay a lesser amount of child support. In addition, if you are the recipient of child support and your spouse remarries, the court will not expect your ex’s new spouse to support your children.
While a new spouse would not be responsible to support their spouse’s children, there are certain circumstances where remarriage may impact child support. For example, if a parent has a new child from a subsequent marriage, a judge would consider the parent’s total child support obligation. If it is more than half of the parent’s monthly net income, the existing support order may be reduced. However, if the support obligation is 50 percent or less of the parent’s monthly net income, the court will not order a reduction.
If a new spouse pays for groceries, part of the mortgage, and utilities bills, less of the parent’s income is used on those expenses — and they will have more income available to provide support to their children. In the event a new spouse’s income reduces a parent’s household expenses, the court can consider this when determining whether to grant a modification order.
Child support matters in Pennsylvania can be complicated. It’s best to have a skillful attorney by your side who can help ensure your legal rights and financial interests are protected. Located in Exeter, Pennsylvania, The Kulick Law Firm, LLC provides high-quality legal services to clients throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania who are facing child support issues. Call (570) 203-2756 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to learn how we can help.