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How does child support work in Pennsylvania?

Divorced or unmarried parents in Pennsylvania will likely confront issues with child support at some point, whether it involves calculating support amounts, modifying orders or something else.

If you are in this position, or if you anticipate that you might be at some point, it can be helpful to understand some basic rules and expectations of the child support program in Pennsylvania. 

What does child support cover?

Child support payments serve at least a couple purposes. First, they ensure parents both contribute to a child's well-being, even if that contribution is limited to financial support.

Child support also helps the custodial parent provide the things a child needs, from basic necessities and medical care to extracurricular and social activities. Keep in mind, though, that child support is not reserved for specific expenses or activities.

Calculating child support

Child support payments are not arbitrary or a means of punishing a parent. There are guidelines in place to calculate basic child support orders. These guidelines take into account parental income, balance of custody and the number of children for whom a parent pays support.

Enforcing or modifying orders

Once an order for support is in place, there may be occasions when a parent needs to enforce or modify the order. These situations typically arise when a parent will not or cannot pay the amount in the existing order. 

In these situations, parents can take legal action to ensure an appropriate support order is in place and enforced. This may require changing an agreement or, in the context of enforcement, seizing assets or criminal prosecution.

Taking child support obligations seriously

It is crucial for both paying and receiving parents to take this financial obligation seriously and address problems early on. Failure to do so can adversely affect every party involved, including a delinquent parent facing legal penalties, the parent struggling to make ends meet and the child who is not receiving the support he or she deserves.

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