Like other states, Pennsylvania has established Child Support Guidelines. Judges are supposed to follow these Guidelines when ordering a parent to pay child support.
In most cases, these Guidelines are relatively straightforward to apply. However, in cases where one or both parents is a high earner, calculating child support can be complicated and lead to arguments.
Pennsylvania’s basic Guidelines apply to couples who have a combined net income of $30,000 a month. While this might seem like a lot money, to put it in perspective, a married couple who are both doctors will likely exceed this threshold. The same is true for those who are prosperous small business owners.
In these cases, the court will follow a special procedure to calculate each parent’s child support obligation. The point behind this procedure is to make sure that a child support obligation actually reflects what a child needs and is not unfairly high.
While the court has some discretion to adjust this amount, the court cannot normally adjust the amount lower than what a parent would pay if the couple made $30,000 a month.
In high-income cases, what does and does not count as income can be at issue
High-income couples also may get their money from a number of different sources aside from a paycheck. For example, the court will include income from a trust as well as income from rent, interest or returns on investments.
Income from one’s business or real estate investments also will count in a child support calculation.
Sometimes, figuring out the full extent of a parent’s income can be difficult. Unfortunately, parents may also try to hide the full extent of their income in order to avoid paying child support.
Residents of the Philadelphia area who are high-earners and have a child support issue will want to review their options carefully.