New PA Child Support Guidelines: Cause for Modification

January 31, 2010 | Child Support, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

Parents who are paying or receiving child support under the Melzer formula for high-income cases (where the parents’ combined net incomes is over $20,000 per month) should contact their lawyers immediately. The new Pennsylvania child support guidelines (which eliminated the Melzer formula, effective May 1, 2010) will almost certainly result in a child support decrease for most of those high-income cases. Rather than considering the custodial parent’s household budget to determine the proper amount of child support, the new guidelines are income-based at all income levels. The child support guidelines chart has been extended upward to $30,000 per month combined net income. For cases where the parents’ combined income is greater than $30,000 per month, the new guidelines start with a base amount and adds a percentage of the parents’ combined income over $30,000 per month.

So, if nothing but the guidelines have changed, can a parent file a petition for modification? Yes, probably. A new Guideline amount resulting from new or revised support guidelines may constitute a material and substantial change in circumstances.  Pa.R.C.P. 1910.19(a).

Parents whose combined net income is less than $20,000 per month might have grounds for modification if the amount of child support under the new guidelines is materially different from the current support order. At some income levels, the amount of child support has increased. At other income levels, it has decreased. Parents are urged to contact their lawyers to find out whether they are entitled to modification.

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