New Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines Impact Obligations for Extra Expenses
Child support ordered in a divorce proceeding is meant to cover the basic expenses of taking care of a child, such as medical care, food, clothing and education. But as a child grows older, parents must shoulder additional expenses that fall outside those basic needs, such as the costs of extracurricular activities, music lessons, athletic coaching, summer camps and long-distance class trips. Extra expenses may also arise because of a child’s special needs — for example, tutoring or therapy.
Recent changes to Pennsylvania child support laws address how parents should share the additional burden of these extra expenses. The amount of child support a parent must pay is calculated based upon the parties’ income and guidelines set forth by statute. Every four years these guidelines are reviewed and updated.
Thanks to updates that took effect in 2022, courts may deviate from the guidelines when additional expenses are incurred in raising a child. In particular, extracurricular, music and athletic expenses childcare expenses such as nannies or daycare may now be added to basic child support and allocated proportionally between parents.
In determining whether extra expenses are reasonable and therefore should be included in child support, courts are required to look at a variety of factors, including these:
- The ages of the children
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties
- Medical expenses not covered by insurance
- Other expenses the parents may have, including unusual needs and support obligations
- Whether the extra expense is consistent with the standard of living that the parents and children are used to
- Other income sources that the parents may have to support such expenses
The court may also consider any other relevant and appropriate factors, including the best interests of the children.
Changes to child support will not automatically be made as a result of the guidelines. Parents must affirmatively seek modification of their support awards. If you have additional or unique expenses for which you believe you should be receiving child support, an experienced family law attorney can assist you in requesting a modification under the new guidelines.
The Law Offices of Jennifer Courtney, P.C. in Yardley frequently assists parents in establishing and modifying Pennsylvania child support orders and can help you evaluate how the changes in the guidelines might impact your award. To set up a time to speak with one of our attorneys, please call 215.493.3360 or contact us online.