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Understanding how child support works in Pennsylvania

The state of Pennsylvania has established certain guidelines when it comes to the issue of court-ordered child support. The state calculates the amount of necessary support based on the child's well-being and how reasonably able the parent is to pay. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued specific support guidelines that a judge will use to calculate the amount of child support. The process can be complicated because it takes into consideration the cost expenses associated with daycare, medical insurance and the living arrangements of the child. Both of the parent's incomes are also included in the calculation.

In the state, typically the payments will remain ongoing until the child becomes 18 years old. However, if the child has not graduated high school or mental or physical conditions are present, the judge may order that extra support is necessary. The order usually stands for a four-year period.

Child support payments can be established by completing a form and filing it at the Domestic Relations office. The office can also assist in helping to locate a non-custodial parent, collect and pay the support to the custodial parent and enforce payments. If parents are able to establish an agreement between themselves, they can request that a judge grant approval of the order in a divorce or family law proceeding.

The child support order will include basic expenses related to education, food, shelter, clothing and extracurricular costs. If unexpected circumstances arise that cause one or both of the parents to want to modify the arrangement, a conference can be scheduled to discuss the order. Since child support issues can become complicated, parents may choose to hire a family lawyer to assist in identifying the best approach to establishing an order that is mutually beneficial to the parents and the child.

Source: Findlaw, "Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines ", accessed on Jan. 9, 2015

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