PA Guidelines Allow Child Support Deviation Based on Custody
The calculation helps determine child support or support deviation for Bucks County and all Pennsylvania support cases. The amount child support deviation may increase or decrease depending on the amount of parenting time spent with the child(ren). It may not necessarily rely on overnights either – if a parent spends time and money on the kids during daytime visits but rarely has them overnight, the deviation may account for that.
The support guidelines include calculations for overnights spent with each parent and will manipulate the percentage of income owed by the obligor (non-custodial) parent. The calculation includes a methodology for determining the percentage of time spent with the non-custodial parent. This number affects what is owed to the obligee (custodial) parent, who is paying for all of the day-to-day expenses of the children.
But what if the custody is split almost fifty-fifty? The non-custodial parent is paying for equally as many day-to-day expenses as the custodial parent as well as child support to the custodial parent. The PA child support guidelines provide for downward child support deviation in cases where the obligor parent has more than 40% parenting time. This time does not necessarily have to be overnights, either. If the parent paying child support has 40% of parenting time during the day and pays for trips, entertainment, events, etc., that parent may be able to reduce their support payments.
Rule 1910.16-4(c) of the PA Support Guidelines states, “The obligor will receive an additional 10% reduction in the amount of support owed at 40% parenting time, increasing incrementally to a 20% reduction at 50% parenting time.”
Conversely, there may be a parent who spends little to no time with the children and does not incur any expenses as a result of overnight visits (or, as stated above, day visits). In that instance, the guidelines provide for an upward deviation in the support obligation. This best serves the children in two ways: the deviation may prompt the non-custodial parent to be present in the child’s life; and it lightens the financial burden on the custodial parent.
In Juli’ A. D’Ancona-Maher vs. Jeremy Gerhart, Plaintiff Mother cited the aforementioned guideline and the 2010 commentary which serves as an explanatory supplement to the code. She sought an upward deviation based on the obligor’s lack of parenting time with their 17 year old child. In this particular case, the Court took into consideration the testimony of the relationship between the father and the teen. Ultimately, the deviation was not considered because the child maintained an active social life; hence, it was partially the child’s choice as to the amount of time spent with the father.
While the PA Support Guidelines are intended to provide a rigid, numbers-based theory to determine payments, custody may be a dramatic variable in cases concerning child support for Bucks County residents. Throughout any discussions of support, the best interests of the child are always of primary concern. If you are involved in a custody or support matter, contact our office to speak with an experienced Bucks County custody lawyer. Call (215) 942-2100 to set up a consultation.