VICTORIA S. HOLLISTER
Ms. Hollister is a graduate of Penn State University and Temple University School of Law. She is a member of the PA, Montgomery County and Berks County Bar Associations.
Ms. Hollister is the mother of three daughters and resides in Berks County.
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The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.
New Pennsylvania Support Guidelines
Pennsylvania has had state-wide Guidelines for determining child and spousal support since the 1980’s. The Guidelines are based on the “income shares model” which is based on the premise that the same proportion of parental income should be available to the child that would have been available to meet the child’s needs if the parents lived together. The amount of support awarded is based primarily on the parties’ monthly net incomes. The Guidelines are a table referencing the combined monthly net incomes of the parents and the number of children eligible for support. The presumption is that the amount of support indicated on the schedule is correct; however, exceptions can be made in unusual situations.
The Guidelines are reviewed at least every four years and updated to reflect current economic data. In addition to updating the entire support schedule, the “self-support reserve” has increased from $867 a month to $931 a month. This amount reflects the 2012 poverty level for one person. It is the minimum amount of income that should be retained by the party paying support to insure they can support themselves and to provide an incentive to continue working. The Guideline tables include joint incomes up to $30,000.
In reviewing the new Guidelines, it appears that the increase in support obligations is modest. For example, the combined income of $5,000 requires a support obligation of $960 for one child under the new Guidelines, an increase of $16 a month from the prior Guideline amount of $944. With the same income of $5,000 for three children, the support obligation increases from $1,566 to $1,586, an increase of $20 a month. The changes are more significant for the higher income cases. When the combined income is over $30,000, the Guideline support amount is calculated by taking the support amount for $30,000 and adding to it a percentage of the additional income for each dollar over the $30,000. The percentage over the $30,000 for one child has increased from 6.5% to 8.5%. Under the old Guidelines, the amount of support for one child at $35,000 was $3,081 and has now increased $145 a month to $3,226. The percentage also increases with the greater number of children and the incremental increases are also greater. For example, when you have 6 children, the percentage assigned to the additional income increased nearly 5% from 12.3% to 17.1%. Regardless of the impact of the Guideline changes, this is a good opportunity for both payor and payee parents to take a look at their current support obligation. The Guideline changes are themselves are considered a change in circumstances for which a party can seek a modification of their support order.
Since the time of the last Guideline update, there has been another change to the support rules worth mentioning. A party who may not have primary custody of the child or who may owe a duty of support to a spouse is now allowed to bring the support action. This is especially important when a spouse is paying spousal support as the IRS Code provides that payment to a spouse or ex-spouse must be pursuant to an order or a divorce or separation agreement in order to receive alimony tax treatment. Any payment made prior to the entry of the order would not be deductible by the paying spouse.
For more information regarding the new Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines or to schedule a consultation to see if the amount of support you are paying or receiving is correct, please call me at 610-323-2800 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please watch OWM’s August 2013 Legal Talk Program regarding the new Pennsylvania Support Guidelines on our website here.
David A. Megay, Esq. speaking at SCORE Business Planning Seminars on 9/9/13 and 11/4/13 (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).
OWM Law sponsoring First Friday celebration in Phoenixville on 9/6/13 and 10/4/13.
Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website at www.owmlaw.com/legal_talk/legal_talk.php.
Read Legal Ease every first and third Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury.