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Child and Spousal Support FAQ

What information do I need to provide to file for spousal or child support?

Prior to visiting our office, you should attempt to have the following information:

  1. A copy of your last Federal and State Income Tax Return.
  2. A copy of a year-to-date statement from your employer(s) for the current year. If self-employed, a Profit and Loss statement through the most recently completed month.
  3. Verification of any child care expenses that may be paid if the childcare is made necessary by your employment or the employment of the other party.
  4. Proof of any medical, dental and eye care coverage that you may carry or have available as well as specific costs of any such coverage. If the coverage is for you and child(ren) and/or spouse, be able to break down the separate costs for coverage of you vs. spouse vs. child(ren).
  5. A list of any unusual expenses that you may pay for yourself, spouse or child(ren). This may include such items as camps, schooling and unusual or recurring medical expenses.
  6. If a support complaint is already filed, a record of all money paid by you to the other party, or received from the other party, from the time of the filing of the complaint. This may be in the form of money or items purchased.
  7. If available, also obtain a copy of the other party's year-to-date income statement and a year-end statement for the prior calendar year.
  8. A copy of any prior agreements between you and the other party and/or any prior support orders.
  9. If you pay or receive child support for children of any other relationship, provide a copy of the same.
  10. Additional information may be required to pursue or defend a claim for a support.

What is the difference between spousal support and alimony in Pennsylvania?

Under Pennsylvania law, the term "alimony" always refers to post-divorce periodic payments and is awarded after the divorce is final. Spousal support can be awarded prior to the divorce if both parties are separated.

How is spousal support calculated in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is the only state which employs mandatory guidelines to determine spousal support. Spousal support and alimony are calculated as follows: 40% of the difference between the payor's net monthly income and the recipient's net monthly income if there are no minor children. If there are children, then the income difference is reduced by the amount of child support, and the result is multiplied by 30%.

Is spousal support tax deductible?

Persons who pay spousal support to an ex-spouse can deduct the amount of the payment from their taxable income. And those who receive the spousal support must report it as taxable income. This only applies to couples who have an order of dissolution of marriage. If you do not have a court order stating that you are legally separated from your spouse, spousal support payments are considered gifts for tax purposes. Gifts are neither deductible from the paying spouse's income, nor taxed as part of the receiving spouse's income.

How is child support calculated?

Child support is determined based upon a number of items that are factored into a relatively complex formula dictated by Pennsylvania Law. The formula is known as the "Pennsylvania Support Guidelines" and is too comprehensive and complex to be included in this website. We highly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your OWM Family Lawyer to review all of the applicable factors, apply the Support Guidelines to those factors, and come up with some reasonable expectations regarding your support obligation or entitlement.

Can my child support be increased? Decreased? 

Either party may petition the court for a modification of child support  agreement when it is in the best interest of the child, or when child reaches the age of majority or when there has been a substantial change in the circumstances of the either party.

Does remarriage affect child support?

Remarriage does not change the requirement for child support. However, a spouse can petition for a modification if the the household income has changed.

When does child support end?

There are always exceptions. Generally, in Pennsylvania, parents are obligated to support their children until they are emancipated. In most cases, once a child turns 18 and has graduated from high school, the child is emancipated.

Is college part of child support?

Pennsylvania's law does not require that parents contribute towards college tuition or other higher education expenses after a child is emancipated.

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