Not many court actions can last as long as child support cases, which may go on for more than 18 years. Child support obligations in Pennsylvania continue until a child reaches age 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later. When circumstances change, it might be time for a modification of child support. Having a trusted and competent family lawyer is important in a child support case because the effects are long-lasting. Pollock Begg has handled hundreds of child support modification cases from the simple to the most complex, and a Pittsburgh child support attorney at our firm is ready to assist you.
What are some of the grounds for child support modification in Pittsburgh?
Parents can petition the court for a review and modification of their child support order at any time if they feel there is a change in circumstance that may affect the amount of the child support order. Additionally, every three years the Domestic Relations Section will send each parent a notice asking if they want their support case reviewed. The review is to make any appropriate increase, decrease, modification or termination of the order, taking into account the best interest of the child.
Factors related to the child support order that are considered include whether:
- the income of either parent significantly increases or decreases;
- the child now has significant or continuing medical expenses;
- child care and/or medical insurance changes;
- the parents are now living together;
- the child receiving support is 18 years of age and graduated from high school;
- the child starts living with the noncustodial parent or someone other than the custodial parent/plaintiff;
- other substantial changes in circumstance occur.
When does Pennsylvania modify child support?
A parent may request modification of child support where there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, such as a change in custody or a parent’s income. Modification is generally retroactive to the date on which the request for modification is filed. Where a parent seeks modification because the child has turned 18 and graduated from high school, the modification is generally retroactive to the date of the child’s emancipation.
There is often a lag time from the date when modification is requested to the date when it is granted. A support modification will date back to the time when it is requested, but usually not an earlier date, so it is important to file a request promptly when there are grounds for modification.
What happens in a child support modification hearing?
A child support modification hearing is much like an initial support hearing. Many, if not most, support modification hearings are settled in advance. This requires having complete, detailed information about each parent’s income, as well as certain expenses such as child care, tuition, medical insurance premiums and expenses not covered by insurance as well as extracurricular activities. With complete information, many cases can be settled out of court.
Cases not settled will experience a two-stage process in court. First, the parents and their lawyers appear in front of a conference officer who will feed information into the Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System, an automated collection system. Applying the guidelines, the computer will predict the amount of support that should be paid. If the parents agree, the process is completed and a new order is issued. If they do not agree, then the parents and their attorneys may have to appear at a formal evidentiary hearing. The lawyers of Pollock Begg in Pittsburgh are adept at handling child support modification proceedings with great care.
Make an appointment with one of our child custody lawyers today.