Ending a marital or nonmarital union is no easy task. When children are in the picture, it makes the split even more challenging, as there are more lives involved and more decisions to make.
One of the most complicated and worrisome aspects is child support, whether you are on the giving or receiving end. If you have the obligation to pay, it can help to understand how the court decides how much support you must provide.
Pennsylvania has a basic child support schedule to act as a starting point in determining the payment amount. First, the courts look at the parents’ combined monthly net income. Then, they factor in how many children need financial support. The chart includes a range of $1,000 to $30,000 monthly income and includes payment amounts for up to six children. The amount for six children is about double the payment for one child, except in cases of very low income. Low-income earners also have the protection of their income staying at a certain amount even if it makes the payment amount less.
Those who make more than $30,000 a month follow a different formula that uses a set amount, plus a set percentage of net income, both based on the number of children involved.
Calculation of income
Because child support depends on income, the calculation of income matters. Following are some of the financial sources that go into the equation:
- Wages or salary, including commissions and bonuses
- Social Security benefits
- Workers’ compensation benefits
- Income tax refunds
- Awards and settlements
- Lottery winnings
Because this is the most complex part, it is best to be accurate and honest in your earnings report for the fairest outcome for you and your children.
The courts recognize that each situation is unique and therefore should receive just treatment in the process. Certain factors may cause a judge to deviate from the basic schedule. These include how old your children are, any other children you have to support, the standard of living for all parties and unusual needs. You and your ex may also agree on a different amount.