What is Child Support?
Child support is money a parent pays to help provide food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities to raise their child. If you've applied to the court for child support, you'll need to establish that the other caretaker has an obligation to pay that support.
For instance, if you've ended a marriage and the children were a product of that marriage, it's generally accepted that the non-custodial parent (the parent the children aren't living with) will need to provide support.
What is Paternity, and Why does it Matter in Support Situations?
Paternity is usually relevant in child custody and support cases when there is a single mother. Paternity defines the relationship between a parent and their children. If a child is born to a married couple, the non-birth parent, usually a male, is presumed to be the other parent, or father. However, this presumption is also true for same-sex female couples who are married. Even under those circumstances, most same-sex female couples will still take the additional step of the non-birth parent formally adopting their child as a “second parent” adoption.
In the cases of unwed parents, paternity is established with a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, a court has entered an order establishing paternity, the father has waived the possibility of trial with the Domestic Relations Section, or there has been a “second parent adoption”.
Paternity sets the obligation for both parents to provide support for their children.
How is Child Support Calculated?
The state of Pennsylvania has set its support guidelines with the principle that children of divorced, separated, or single parents should receive the same amount of parental support as if the parents were together.
Those guidelines are based on the needs of the children and the ability of their parents to meet them until the children turn 18 or graduate from high school, whichever comes last.
What Do You Need to Achieve Support Modifications?
Parents can petition the court to review their support orders to modify them, provided there is a change in circumstances that might affect the amount of child support available. Also, county Domestic Relations Section will reach out to parents to ask if they'd like their cases reviewed.
The court will consider several factors, including but not limited to:
- Has either parents' income significantly increased or decreased?
- Do the children require significant or continuing medical expenses?
- Has the childcare or insurance changed?
- Are the parents living together?
- Are the children living with someone besides the custodial parent?
- Is either parent incarcerated?
If you do wish to modify your child support order, you'll need proof that the circumstances have changed. A family law attorney will be able to guide you in how to collect that evidence, such as getting a copy of the other parent's criminal record.
The Process to Receive Modification of a Court Order
To prove the need to modify family court orders, you'll need to show there was a significant change in your circumstances. Any request to terminate or modify child support payments requires that you file to modify your child support payments with the court. Child support ends when a child graduates from high school, or if the children reach 18 years, whichever comes last, but you may need to file a petition for the court to recognize the end to the child support payments.
The court will decide if the change should be approved or denied. Your chances of success depend on how well you can prove a change in circumstances.
Let Gibson Family Law, PLLC Help with Your Child Custody Modifications
The last thing you may want to do after reaching the final decision in your case is to revisit it. It can be stressful and daunting to review your circumstances alone, but sometimes it is necessary to change the decision reached regarding your child support outcomes.
Relying on an experienced Family Law attorney like Susan Gibson can give you a great chance to reach a new agreement with your ex-partner.
Susan can help you show how your circumstances have changed since the court ruled on your child support, and she'll help you build your case.