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Kardos, Rickles & Hand Bucks County Divorce Attorney
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Montgomery County Child Support Attorney

Pennsylvania is an income share state for child support purposes. Support payments are designed to give the children the same standard of living they would have if their parents were married. This mandate dovetails nicely with Pennsylvania’s marital asset/debt division laws. These laws require an equitable division of the marital estate.

The Montgomery County child support attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand always strive to uphold the best interests of your children. At the same time, we work hard to uphold your legal and financial rights. Frequently, parents agree on the general principles of child support but disagree about specific payments. We turn this inconsistency into a workable solution.

Child Support Guidelines

In some states, the child support guidelines consider little more than the obligor’s income. But in Pennsylvania, the guidelines account for a number of factors, such as:

  • Age of the children,
  • Income of both parents,
  • Standard of living during the marriage, and
  • Parenting timeshare arrangement.

Parental income, especially the obligor’s income, is often the most controversial portion of these matters. Many parents try to conceal income. Intentional over-withholding is a good example. Some unscrupulous obligors intentionally over-withhold to artificially reduce their net incomes. Then, they get this money back in the form of a tax return.

Scams like this one are not too difficult to uncover, if your attorney is diligent and knows what to look for. Circumstantial evidence of income concealment includes sudden, unexplained drops in income. Somewhere, there is probably a smoking gun written request. These smoking guns usually surface during the discovery process.

Guideline circumstances change over time. When that happens, a modification might be appropriate. The judge has the authority to raise or lower support payments based on a permanent and unanticipated change of circumstances. Additionally, this change must have occurred in good faith.

Child support orders usually include medical support orders. If the obligor does not have group health insurance, the obligor must normally pay a portion of the obligee’s insurance costs.

Deviations from the Guidelines

In Pennsylvania, the guideline amount is presumptively appropriate, in both original determination and subsequent modification actions. However, judges also have the discretion to deviate from the guidelines in certain situations. Some of these situations include:

  • Extraordinary physical or emotional needs of the child,
  • Unusual financial obligations,
  • All income sources of both parents,
  • Children’s age,
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses,
  • Standard of living during the marriage, and
  • Any other relevant factors.

This process contains two steps. First, the moving party must convince the judge that the guidelines do not apply. Then, largely using these same factors, the moving party must submit a proposed payment amount. Generally, this amount cannot deviate more than about 10 percent from the guideline amount.

Fundamentally, these deviation factors focus on the child’s needs. There is a difference between the child’s needs and the child’s wants. There is also a difference between the best interests of the children and the preferences of the parents.

Contact an Experienced Attorney

Child support orders must be in the best interests of the children. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We routinely handle matters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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