By Emily E. Farris

Emily Harris Headshot

The general concept of child support is known by many; however, the specifics of what exactly is included in a child support order in Pennsylvania may surprise you. It is not as cut and dry as making one lump-sum payment each month. In fact, there are many expenses which some would assume are included in the basic support obligation that are not, increasing the overall financial commitment.

In Pennsylvania, each parent owes a duty of support to their child until the child reaches the age of eighteen (18) or graduates from high school, whichever is later. Such obligation is enforceable through a child support order, wherein the non-custodial parent pays support or, in the case of shared physical custody, the higher-earning parent pays the support obligation.

In Pennsylvania, child support is based on an “Income Shares Model”, which means that each parent is financially responsible for a portion of the amount listed in the Statewide Child Support Schedule in proportion with his or her monthly net income. Pennsylvania’s Basic Child Support Schedule has been codified as Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-3.

The basic support obligation is designed to cover very basic expenses for the child including, but not limited to, shelter, utilities, nutrition, etc. So, what additional expenses can you expect to pay in addition to basic support?

The court will allocate the cost of health insurance premiums for the children in the calculation which will either increase or decrease the obligor’s monthly support payment, depending on which party is paying the premium.

Each parent should be prepared to pay their percentage share, based on their monthly net incomes, for any child-care expenses necessary to maintain employment (including camp), private school tuition (if applicable), extracurricular activities, etc.

With regard to unreimbursed medical expenses incurred for the child, the party receiving support will be responsible to pay the first $250 per year, per child for unreimbursed medical expenses as it is included in the basic support obligation. If there are any additional unreimbursed medical expenses above $250 per year, per child, the parties are required to pay those expenses in accordance with their percentage share. In Pennsylvania, according to Pa.R.C.P. 1910-16-6(c), “medical expenses include, insurance co-payments and deductibles, and all expenses incurred for reasonably necessary medical services and supplies, including but not limited to surgical, dental, and optical services, and orthodontia.”

Any order issued in a child support case will likely encompass each party’s responsibility for the above expenses, in addition to the recurring monthly support amount.

It is important to note that, in some circumstances, the court may deviate from the amount listed in the Support Schedule. So, you should consult with a family law attorney to see whether an upward or downward deviation would be appropriate in your case.
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This is a basic overview of the contents of a child support order in Pennsylvania. The divorce and family law attorneys of Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, PC can guide you through all of your divorce and family law matters, including child support and spousal support issues. Contact our family lawyers for a confidential discussion.

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