When spouses separate, the support of their children is considered a “priority obligation” under the law; if necessary, parents are expected to adjust their other expenditures in order to meet a child support obligation. As a parent, you will want to ensure that the amount of child support paid meets the needs of your children while remaining fair to both spouses.
A parent’s obligation to support his or her children is nearly absolute, and parents cannot bargain away their duty of child support. Typically, the parent with the majority of custody time, as defined by overnight custody, will receive child support from the other parent. However, in rare cases, if there is a large disparity in incomes, the custodial parent might have to pay support to the other parent.
The base amount of child support is determined by state guidelines, which assume that the parent child relationship gives rise to a support obligation based upon the reasonable needs of the child and the available income of the parents. However, adjustments to the guideline amount may be made where there are unusual or extraordinary expenses, or where other reasonable needs (such as day care) are appropriate for inclusion. In most cases, the duty to support a child ends when the child reaches age 18, has graduated high school, and is capable of self-support. There is no duty under the law to support a child during, or to pay for, the child’s college education.
Child support issues often cause ill will and friction between separated parents. However, with an experienced and balanced approach, child support matters can often be resolved by agreement without extensive litigation. The key is to know the difference between potentially complex support cases and those where settlement is appropriate. You may rely on our firm to make this determination and ensure that your children receive the fair amount of support they deserve.
Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby provides seasoned representation in child support matters. For more information, contact us online or call our office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at 412-261-4040.