Question: My husband and I are getting a divorce in Pennsylvania. We attempted to negotiate the child support and custody schedule for our son without going to court. We agree that we will each have our son 50% of the time, but we cannot agree on child support. We are going to let the court decide now. We both work full time, and my husband thinks that we both should provide equal support for our son. However, my income is significantly less than his, 50% less to be exact. Shouldn’t he pay more? Shouldn’t I get child support because his income is more than mine?
Answer: Pursuant to Pennsylvania child support laws, child support is the equal responsibility of both parents. However, it does not mean that both parents contribute equally. Rather, parents are obligated to contribute to child support in accordance with their capacity and ability, which takes into consideration factors such as the parents’ income and earning ability.
In general, calculating child support in Bucks County, Pennsylvania is straight forward. Pennsylvania has support guidelines that explain how to calculate child support. They combine the parents’ net monthly income, which is then cross-indexed against the number of children to determine a monthly support amount. Then, each parent pays a portion of the monthly support based on the percentage of the combined net monthly income each parent earns. Click here to see Pennsylvania’s Basic Child Support Schedule.
Let’s calculate child support using some hypothetical numbers. Let’s first assume your husband’s monthly net income is $4,000. Your monthly net income, which is 50% less, would then be $2,000 in our hypothetical. The combined monthly income would amount to $6,000. Using PA’s Basic Child Support Schedule, the monthly support for one child is $1,071. Your husband would be responsible for contributing 66.67% of the combined monthly net income. Therefore, he would pay 66.67% of the monthly child support, which is $714. Your portion of the child support would be $357. This means he would pay you $714 if you had primary custody. Because he has 50% custody he receives a credit for the time and expense he has during his custody time of $214. So he pays you $500 instead of $714 due to the shared physical custody schedule.
It is important to note, however, that these numbers may not be the final child support amount. They may be adjusted after considering other additional expenses such as health care insurance.
In addition, this hypothetical is for parents with 50/50 custody. In situations that are not 50/50, one parent may get a reduction on the child support based on the schedule. This will be discussed in a later article.
It is best to consult with a divorce and child support lawyer in Bucks County to ensure you are paying or receiving the correct child support.