Child support serves an important purpose in Pennsylvania. It allows parents who are primarily raising their children to have the financial support to do so.
As you raise your children, circumstances are bound to change. Some of these changes could warrant a change in the amount of child support paid, or even a termination of the child support obligation altogether.
A material and substantial change of circumstances
Pennsylvania law allows a petition to terminate child support to be filed upon a material and substantial change of circumstances. A court will generally be more receptive to a petition to modify the support than a petition to terminate it; however, there are situations where termination is possible.
The court’s main concern in any family law matter is the best interest of the children. Showing that the children’s best interests can still be served without child support will increase the chance of a termination petition being granted.
This can be challenging. Your reason for requesting the child support termination may be because you lost a job and no longer have the income to make your child support payments.
Because this type of situation is commonly seen as temporary, your chance of having your child support obligation terminated altogether is slim. The court will likely impute income to you based on your earning capacity and perhaps lower your child support amount, but not end it altogether.
Either parent can request termination
The change in circumstances does not need to be your own to request a child support termination.
For example, your co-parent might be cohabitating with, or gotten married to, someone with a high income. Proof of their higher household income can help you show that the children’s best interests can be met without your child support payments.
Your co-parent may also have come into a large inheritance, allowing them to financially care for the children on their own.
In some cases, the petition to terminate can be filed by the parent receiving the child support, such as in the example above. A parent coming into a large amount of money can file a petition requesting child support to end because they no longer need it.
Family law attorneys can analyze situations and determine the likelihood of success of a petition to terminate child support.