Can I Attend a Support Conference Without an Attorney?
It is not recommended. If you and your spouse are W-2 wage earners, the process by which a child support obligation and spousal support obligation is calculated is based on a formula. The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines, calculation of support obligations, formula can be located in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1910.16-4.
The formula itself is not complicated. There are a number of issues you should be aware of before attending a support conference on your own or prior to consulting with an attorney in preparation for a support conference.
Medical Insurance – which parent provides the health, dental, and vision coverage? If you are the parent/spouse providing the insurance coverage, the cost of insurance will be reflected on your pay stub. This figure however does provide the figures for the cost of insurance to the employee only, employee plus children; and employee plus family. This information can generally be obtained from the employer’s Human Resource Department and it will provide a more accurate cost of insurance to the employee/spouse.
Mortgage – If you are married, the spouse remaining in the marital residence may be able to seek a mortgage contribution. For the spouse receiving child support and/or spousal support, you may receive additional support to help pay for the mortgage. If you are the spouse paying support and you reside in the marital residence, you may be able to reduce your support obligation, due to your payment of the mortgage. In order to seek this adjustment in the support obligation, you will need to have documentation evidencing the mortgage, home owners insurance, and real estate taxes. Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-6(e) sets forth the mortgage contribution formula.
Child Care Expenses – Child care expenses are in addition to the guideline child support obligation. Child care expenses are apportioned between the parties based on their net incomes. If there are child care expenses, make sure documentation as to the cost of expenses is brought to the support conference.
Support Credits – Support Order’s are retroactive to the date the support petition was filed. If you are the spouse/parent, who is going to owe support, and you have been paying bills on behalf of the financially dependent spouse/parent, make sure you provide documentation evidencing the bills and expenses you have paid on behalf of the financially dependent spouse/parent and children from the support petition was filed through the date of the support conference. You are entitled to a credit towards your support obligation, however, this credit must be asked for at the conference.
If you plan on attending a support conference without representation, it is recommended you at least consult with an attorney beforehand.