Spousal Support And Alimony FAQ

Where can I file for support?

If you and the Obligor reside in Pennsylvania, you can file a support action in the county in which (1) the Obligor resides; (2) the Obligor is regularly employed; (3) the Obligee resides and that county is the county in which the last marital domicile is located and in which the Obligee continues to reside; or (4) the child resides if the relief sought includes child support.

Who can file for support of a child?

If your child resides with you and you do not live with the child's other parent, you may file a support action against the other parent. If you have custody of a child who is not your biological child, you may file a support action against both of the child's parents.

Until what age must I support my child?

Generally, you must support your child until he reaches the age of 18 years and has graduated from high school. Pennsylvania does not require parents to support children if they choose to pursue educational opportunities after reaching age 18 years and graduating from high school, although parents may do so voluntarily. Under certain circumstances where a child has a disability, your obligation to support your child may not terminate.

The other parent and I share custody of our child almost on an equal basis. Am I entitled to a reduction in support because our child is frequently in my custody?

When a child spends 40% or more of his time during the year with the parent who is paying support, a rebuttable presumption arises that parent is entitled to a reduction in the basic support obligation to reflect that time.

My child comes to my house after school every day until his other parent picks him up at 6 p.m. Does my time during the day count to determine if I have substantial physical custody of my child?

No. In Pennsylvania, only overnight stays are counted to determine whether you are entitled to a reduction in the support that you pay to the primary custodial parent.

How does the court determine the amount of support that I should pay or receive?

Pennsylvania bases child support awards on the amounts spent on children in intact families by combined income and number of children. Basic support obligation is allocated between the parents based on their share of the combined net monthly incomes.

What is covered by the basic support obligation?

Basic support obligation covers the ordinary living expenses for a child. For example, it would include housing costs, clothing, food, and the first $250 per year of medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance.

What about other expenses for a child? Is the primary custodial parent responsible for the full expense?

In addition to the basic support obligation, the court may allocate child care expenses, health insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical expenses in excess of $250 per year, private school tuition, summer camp and other reasonable needs between the parents.

If the income of either parent changes, can a petition be filed to recalculate the support obligation?

Whenever a material and substantial change in circumstances occurs, either parent may file a petition for modification of the support order. A revision in the guidelines may constitute a material and substantial change in circumstances. A change in income or employment may also constitute a material and substantial change in circumstances.

An order for support of my child was entered against the other parent, but I have not received any payment for more than 30 days. Is there anything that can be done to collect the support?

A petition for contempt can be filed with the court and a hearing will be scheduled. The court has numerous enforcement remedies at its disposal, including incarceration, suspension of driver's license, interception of income tax returns and lottery winnings, and denial of passport, among other remedies.