Changes In New Pennsylvania Support Guidelines

By: Amy R. Stern, Esquire

As of May 12, 2010, there will be some changes made to the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines which could affect both those paying and those receiving child and spousal support.

First, high income cases, considered to be cases where the parents= combined monthly net incomes exceed $30,000.00, will no longer be determined by a needs based analysis. Instead, there will be a formula used by the court in determining how much child support will be paid in high income cases based upon the parties= incomes and the number of children, rather than on their expenses.

Other changes include the potential to obtain additional child support where a parent has little or no contact with the children and the possible payment of less support when a parent incurs substantial expenditures during his or her custodial time with the children.

The Court also must consider the duration of a marriage in determining the duration of a spousal support award. This provision would prevent unfairness arising in a case where there was a short term marriage but a spouse is required to pay support for a longer period of time than the parties were married.

As a result of the current economic conditions, the guidelines now also will contain language stating that adjustments in child support may be made in a situation where a person has no control over their job elimination and their reduction of income was not willful or done in order to reduce child support. The new guidelines go on to state that the court must look at all relevant circumstances in determining whether someone has the ability to obtain employment including the choice of jobs available within a particular occupation, working hours, working conditions and whether or not the individual has exerted substantial good faith efforts to find employment.