The Law Center

How to Calculate Child Support

 Child support is always payable to the parent with primary custody of the children (meaning more than half of the overnights with the children). The issue is overnights, not hours or days.   The parent with more than half the overnights gets child support.  When there’s 50-50, child support in Pennsylvania is paid to the lower-earning parent.

Spousal support or alimony has to be calculated first, which was new in 2019 because of the new tax laws.   If you’re paying alimony, this will factor into the child support calculation because it reduces the payor’s income and increases the payee’s income. The person who has primary custody of the children will always be the one getting child support, even if he or she has a higher income.   It’s possible to pay alimony or spousal support while at the same time receiving child support.

In calculating child support in Pennsylvania, a parent paying child support with more than 40% of over-nights will get at least a 10% reduction.  For each percentage point of additional time above 40%, you get another 1 percent reduction up to 20% or half of overnights. 

The amount of child support is dependent on the number of children that are the subject to the order, and it can be reduced if the payor has other children to care for and that’s worked into the calculations.  In Pennsylvania, additional child care expenses, like day care, private school tuition, sports or music activities, and health insurance are split in proportion to the parent’s relative income.

The court calculates a basic child support number by combining the two parents’ incomes, the number of children, and applying “the child support guidelines.” After getting an initial support amount from the guidelines, the courts going to assign a percentage of responsibility of those “additional expenses” that has to be paid by the parents in proportion to the parents’ relative income.  Those additional expenses set forth above is in addition to the basic child support number.  For instance, if the parents make the same amount, they split the additional expenses 50-50.  If one parent makes twice the amount of the other, they split them 2/3 to 1/3.  The payor adds the share to the monthly amount.  If it’s a health care premium that’s being paid in addition to the monthly support, then the share is deducted from support.

Go to this link for a website to help you estimate your child support liability.  If you need legal representation, click the “Request Consultation” button for a free case evaluation.