November 30, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/
-- The Pennsylvania child support guidelines presume that a non-custodial parent will have custody of the children for 30 percent of the overnights in a calendar year. This 30 percent presumption is built into the child support formula and applies even if the non-custodial parent has the children for less than 30 percent of the overnights. In fact, even a non-custodial parent who has been denied visitation to the children is required to pay child support
, as calculated pursuant to the PA child support guidelines. In this respect, child custody and the obligation to pay child support are not linked. A parent is obligated to pay child support whether or not he or she is allowed to see the child, and a parent who denies the non-custodial parent access to the children for failing to pay child support may be found in contempt.
What if the non-custodial parent has custody of the children in excess of 30 percent of the overnights in a calendar year?
Where the non-custodial parent has custody of the children in excess of 30 percent of the overnights in a calendar year, the non-custodial parent may be entitled to a reduction in the amount of child support she or he is obligated to pay. The Pennsylvania child support guidelines provide that "[w]hen the children spend 40% or more of their time during the year with the [parent who pays child support], a rebuttable presumption arises that [she or he] is entitled to a reduction in the basic support obligation
to reflect this time." Pa. R.C.P. No. 1910-16.4(c)(1). The reduction is equal to the percentage of actual overnights that are in excess of 30 percent.
For example, assume Parent A and Parent B have two children. Parent B has primary custody and has a monthly net income of $2,300. Parent A has custody the children 30 percent of the time and has a monthly net income of $5,000. Under the Pennsylvania child support guidelines, the total monthly basic support obligation for the couple's two children is $1,663, with non-custodial Parent A obligated to pay 68 percent ($1,131) of that amount in child support.
However, if Parent A has the children for 40 percent of the overnights, the guidelines create a rebuttable presumption that she or he is entitled to a reduction in the basic support obligation to reflect this time. Because the basic support obligation is based on the non-custodial parent having 30 percent of the overnights, Parent A is entitled to a 10 percent (40 percent minus 30 percent) reduction in child support. Thus, instead of paying 68 percent ($1,131) of the basic support obligation in child support, Parent A will pay 58 percent (68 percent minus 10 percent) or $965 in child support to Parent B.
Is the obligation to pay child support eliminated when custody is split 50/50?
No. The obligation to pay child support is not eliminated when the parents share custody equally, or "50/50." As in the example above, Parent A's basic child support obligation reduction is equal to the percent of actual overnights in excess of 30 percent: 68 percent (basic support obligation) minus 20 percent (percent of overnights in excess of 30 percent) equals 48 percent or $798. Child support is not eliminated in this scenario because under Pennsylvania law, children are entitled to the same lifestyle in both parents' households, and the higher-earning parent is still obligated to pay child support to that end.
If you have questions about the PA child support guidelines, schedule a consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania family law attorney for straightforward answers and guidance.
Article provided by Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.
Visit us at www.pafamilylawyers.com