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How Is Child Support Calculated in Pennsylvania (2020 Updated) - PA Families & Children Laws

Affordable Legal Help | Jul 21, 2020

How Is Child Support Calculated in PA (Pennsylvania)

Separation or divorce between a couple leads to the children having to live with one parent - the custodial parent. In such a case, the non-custodial parent is required to make child support payments for the children so that they can live a normal life devoid of any struggle.

If we talk about Pennsylvania specifically, it has certain rules regarding the custody of the child. A child support calculator is used to determine the amount of child support payment which has to be made every month by one or both of the parents.

To understand the Pennsylvania child support calculator and other laws related to child support payments Pennsylvania, Affordable Legal Help is here to facilitate you.

Understanding Child Support in Pennsylvania

 According to the Pennsylvania Child Support Laws, both parents have an obligation to support their children. The custodial parent is the one with whom the child lives after the separation or divorce is finalized. This parent receives the child support payments from the other non-custodial parent. The Pennsylvania law states that because the non-custodial parent spends less time with the children, they are obligated to make the child support payments. The custodial parent is free from this responsibility because they are already spending money on the children by providing them with food and other necessities daily.

Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines

The child support payments and the child support calculator Pennsylvania is decided according to the Pennsylvania child support Guidelines (231 PA Code Rule 1910.16-4 to be precise). These guidelines are set according to the following:

  • Income of both the parents
  • The total number of children who require support

But these guidelines aren't set on hard and fast rules. They can be changed according to:

  • The affordability of the paying parent
  • The needs of the child
  • Custody arrangements

If the income of one parent isn't sufficient to be able to make child support payments, the option of joint custody or 50/50 custody child support is also available.



Pennsylvania Child Custody Laws

 The child custody laws in Pennsylvania are based on factors that are best for the child. According to these laws the custody of the child, visiting the child, child support payments, and other issues are determined with the child's best interests in mind. In case the parents fail to come up with a mutual agreement on the above factors, the court has no choice but to take matters in its hands and issue a controlling order for a settlement.

Some factors that need to be considered before deciding upon the settlement are:

  • The child's inclination towards the parents
  • Family relationships
  • Location of their residence
  • Mental and physical health of the parents
  • Risk of harm or abuse
  • Parenting duties
  • Which parent can cater to the needs of the child better

The gender of the parents isn't taken into consideration and both the parents have equal custodial rights. This means that a mother doesn't need to have more rights to keep the children. The decision about which parent the children will be staying with entirely depends on the mutual decision of the parents and orders from the court based on the Pennsylvania child support Guidelines.

How is Child Support Calculated in Pennsylvania?

 The Pennsylvania child support Guidelines have a predetermined formula according to which the child support payments are calculated. But as mentioned earlier, changes can be made to the amount of payment calculated by the Pennsylvania child support calculator, which the non-custodial parent has to pay, due to special or unforeseen circumstances.

The factors that affect the payable amount of child support are:

  • The number of children
  • The schedule of physical custody
  • The income of both the parents after deduction of taxes
  • Additional expenses

The child support payments are usually made to the custodial parent or the parent with the primary custody. The custody is given based on annual overnights a parent has with the child. If the amount is more than 50%, the parent is eligible for custody. The non-custodial parent gets a discount on the total child support payment if their overnights with the child exceed 40%.

50/50 Custody Child Support

 If after mutual discussion, the parents have agreed upon a 50/50 custody schedule, then child support payments determined by the child support calculator Pennsylvania, will be given to the parent with the lower income by the parent with the higher income. The 50/50 custody child support enables a fair payment arrangement for both the parents.

Calculation of Net Monthly Income of the Parents

 Now that the custody schedule has been decided and child support payments have been settled upon, it's time to calculate the net monthly income of the parents after the deduction of tax.

What is Net Monthly Income?

 Determining the money that comes under the category of net monthly income is quite essential before getting on with the Pennsylvania child support calculator. Net income includes the income that comes from:

  • Wages
  • Salary
  • Bonus
  • Commission
  • Interest
  • Rent

The amount that is deducted from the gross monthly income are:

  • Taxes
  • Alimony
  • Union dues

Once the deductible amount is subtracted, you have the exact amount of the monthly net income.


Recommended Read: Texas Child Support Calculator

Pennsylvania Child Support Calculator


After determining the net monthly income, a few steps have to be followed to calculate how much child support in Pennsylvania is.

Step 1:

Determine the combined net monthly income of both the parents.

Step 2:

Divide the individual net monthly income of each parent with the combined amount, to get a percentage of each parent's contribution to the total net monthly income.

Step 3:

Refer to the Pennsylvania child support Guidelines and find the child support payment schedule according to the number of children present. For example, according to the Basic Child Support Obligation, if there are 2 children, the amount of monthly child support will be $1795. This amount has been predetermined by the child support calculator Pennsylvania.

Step 4:

Determine the amount each parent has to pay monthly, based on the percentage calculated in step 2. Multiply the percentage with the amount of child support for 2 children i.e. $1795.

Once the amount payable by both the parties is calculated, final adjustments are made according to the additional expenses of the children including health insurance and school tuition fees.

In short:

  • The non-custodial parent is responsible for the payment of child support.
  • In cases of 50/50 custody, the parent with the higher income pays child support.
  • The parent with the higher percentage of overnights with the children gets the custody.
  • The parent with the higher income is obligated to pay alimony.

Support from Affordable Legal Help

Going through the process of child custody and settlement on child support payments can be very overwhelming. What you need is professional help in this regard.

The lawyers at Affordable Legal Help are well-versed with the various laws related to child support in Pennsylvania. They will be able to guide you in a better and understandable way. So, contact us for a free consultation and we will provide you with the help you need.