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Child Support

For a divorce lawyer or a family law attorney in Pittsburgh, handling support cases is most likely the “bread and butter” of the practice.  Most divorces involve children, and most divorcing couples who have children also have a child support arrangement or Order of Court.  Child support is also a common issue in cases where no divorce ever took place- obviously you can have a child with another person with whom you are no longer with, whether you get married or not.

The thing about child support is that once you establish it, meaning once you have a hearing or come to an agreement on it and then confirm said agreement or result of hearing into an agreement or order, you will probably “tweak” it several times throughout its duration.  The need for child support, and the ability to pay child support, may evolve over time.  For example, many times, when children are young, and both parents are working, a supplemental amount for child care or preschool may be built into the child support award.  When each child, in turn, reaches school age, the need for child support diminishes significantly, considering the child is in school during hours when he or she would otherwise be in paid school.  In some cases, the need for child support may increase because of schooling, if the children attend parochial or private school.  Other situations regarding the child can change, such as medical insurance costs, activity or extracurricular costs, or perhaps the amount of time each parent spends with the child, all resulting in a need for a change in child support.

Besides changing situations centered on the child, the circumstances surrounding the parents may also change.  One of the most frequent is one where a parent’s income changes.  For EITHER parent, that being the one receiving or paying child support, an increase or decrease in their income may change the child support calculation.  For example, if a parent paying child support suddenly becomes unemployed through an injury or through a layoff, his or her income will decrease dramatically, at least at first.  That parent may seek unemployment compensation or perhaps some form of disability, which is often less than what that parent may have made while employed.  In such a circumstance, a modification of the support may be warranted, because that parent’s ability to pay child support has changed through no real fault on his or her part.  Likewise, a parent paying support may suddenly come into more funds, such as a big raise or bonus at work, or perhaps a new position offering a larger salary.  In such a case, the parent’s ability to pay child support is now greater, thus warranting an increase in child support.

The same may be said for the parent receiving child support.  Suppose that parent may have been unemployed for some time, but re-enters the workforce.  Because that parent is receiving an income, the total amount of funds entering the family “pot” has increased.  In such a case, a decrease in child support may be warranted, considering that parent (with his or her new income) may have a decreased need for child support.  Likewise, a parent who enjoys custody of the children and thus receives support may also experience a decrease in income, perhaps by illness or layoff, that decreases his or her income, thus possibly increasing the amount of child support that he or she may need.

Periodically, the child support guidelines change.  In cases like these, a change in an individual’s support obligation may also change.  Additionally, a child support obligation should be monitored and reviewed at least every three (3) calendar years for any changes in income, custody, or expenses that may warrant a change in child support.

Bethany L. Notaro, Esquire is an experienced child support lawyer, handling cases in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County) as well as throughout southwestern Pennsylvania (Westmoreland, Washington, Butler, among others).  Ms. Notaro will be more than happy to consult with you regarding your own unique custody case, and how she may help.  Child support is often difficult to navigate, and running child support numbers prior to a support change is an important part of the decision process.  Attorney Bethany L. Notaro and her family law firm are here to explain your many options.  For more information on child support modification and the filing and establishment of child support, please contact lawyer Bethany L. Notaro at 412-281-1988.

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