I have previously written blog entries about how Pennsylvania courts calculate child support. The basic child support calculation is relatively straight forward and largely dependent on the parent's relative incomes. However, after the court calculates a basic child support award, it is permitted to deviate from that amount (either increase or decrease the order) under certain circumstances. Evidence of these circumstances can be presented at a hearing and the court will have to consider whether or not to modify the support amount based on the evidence.
According to the Pennsylvania Rules, "if the amount of support deviates from the amount of support determined by the guidelines, the trier of fact shall specify, in writing or on the record, the guideline amount of support and the reasons for, and findings of fact justifying, the amount of the deviation." The factors that the court may consider in order to deviate from the support guidelines are as follows:
- Unusual needs and unusual fixed obligations;
- Other support obligations of the parties;
- Other income in the household;
- Ages of the children;
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties;
- Medical expenses not covered by insurance;
- Standard of living of the parties and their children;
- Other relevant and appropriate factors, including the best interests of the child or children.
As there are quite a few factors that the court will consider, I will address a few factors at a time in each of the next few entries.
If you believe that any of the above circumstances apply to your support case and that the court did not consider the factor(s) when calculating your support obligation, contact an experienced family law attorney. He or she will be able to determine whether or not the existence of these circumstances could significantly affect your support order.