Pennsylvania allows for parents to share custody of a minor child after a divorce, and in some cases, that custody is split equally, 50/50. This can lead to some confusion over whether either parent is required to pay child support, since the common determination of child support is typically that the noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. However, in Pennsylvania, an equal sharing of child custody does not eliminate the need to pay child support. In these situations, the higher-earning parent usually pays child support to the lesser-earning parent for the child’s care.
Factors Affecting Child Support Payments
There are three main factors that determine which parent pays child support when custody is shared equally. These three factors are the number of children covered by the support order, the monthly after-tax income of each parent, and certain additional expenses for each child. Other special circumstances, such as paying support for another child from a prior relationship or personal medical expenses, can also factor into the calculations. After calculating these factors, the higher-earning parent in Pennsylvania will pay child support to the lesser-earning parent for the child. The greater the discrepancy in the incomes between households, the higher the child support payment typically is for the wealthier spouse, even if custody is split equally.
The main purpose of child support in 50/50 custody situations is to maintain the same lifestyle and quality of life in each household, which is why the wealthier parent may be required to pay support for the time the child is at the other parent’s home. However, one exception to this rule is if each parent’s income is substantially the same. If, after all relevant factors are calculated, both parents’ incomes are pretty much equal, the court may not order one parent to pay support to the other in an equal custody situation. If one parent’s income changes significantly, however, the order might be modified for support to be paid from one parent to the other.
Child Support is for the Child
When parents argue over child support payments, they often lose focus of the purpose of the payments. Child support is not an additional alimony payment to a former spouse. This money is specifically for the well-being and benefit of your children, to ensure that their quality of life is maintained regardless of which parent they stay with. So, even if you are required to pay child support in a 50/50 split of child custody, remember that it is for the benefit of your child’s best interests, not for your former spouse.
Call or Contact a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney Today
If you have concerns about child support in a Pennsylvania divorce, an experienced divorce attorney in your area may be able to help. Call or contact the Martin Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.