Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines

Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. In Pennsylvania, child support obligations normally last until the child turns 18 years old, but can continue up past that age if the child is still in high school or has certain physical or mental conditions that require extra support.

How to Request Child Support in Pennsylvania

There are several ways a parent can receive child support. Parents can make an agreement and ask a judge to approve support order in a civil case such as a divorce or other family law proceedings. However, the majority of cases start by completing an Application for Child Support and submitting it to the local Domestic Relations office.

The Domestic Relations office can help a parent locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity for children born outside of marriage, establishment of support obligations, collection and distribution of support, and enforcement of support obligations.

Calculation of Support

Support is based upon the reasonable needs of the child and upon the reasonable ability of the parent to pay. The court determines child support amounts using a set of support guidelines created by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

A judge will calculate child support amounts using a somewhat complicated formula. The most significant factors are each parent's income, daycare expenses, the cost of medical insurance, any Social Security benefits the child may be receiving and the living arrangements of the children. A judge will automatically review the support amount every four (4) years.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Pennsylvania's child support laws. See also Child Custody, Child Support Modifications, and Child Support Enforcement.

Code Section 231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.16-1
Who is Responsible? Both parents
How Support is Calculated? Pennsylvania Support Guidelines
Factors

Guidelines are based upon the monthly income of both parents even if the parents are not working, the court may order them to pay child support. In some cases, both parents may be ordered to pay support for a child not in their care.

What is Included in a Support Order? Monetary support (food, clothing, & shelter), health insurance, basic education expenses. Also might include child care expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, visitation travel costs, and extracurricular activities.
How Long Must a Parent Pay Child Support? Until the child reaches the age of 18 or until the child graduates high school. Support may continue past 18 if the child has certain physical or emotional challenges.
Local Child Support Offices

Pennsylvania Child Support program, local offices of Domestic Relations

Child Support Forms Forms
Can a Support Order be Changed? Yes. Either party can ask Domestic Relations to schedule a modification conference if circumstances have changed.

Because Pennsylvania's child support laws can sometimes get complicated, it may also be a good idea to consult an experienced family law attorney or the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement Helpline at 1-800-932-0211 if you have questions about your specific situation.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.