In Pennsylvania, the general rule is that parents have a financial duty to support their children. Regularly occurring payments to the custodial parent, health insurance coverage for the child, and school tuition payments are examples of child support. In the event of divorce, separation, or disputed paternity, a parent may be unwilling to pay child support, and “forced” child support may be necessary through the court. The government may also seek to enforce child support payments if the custodial parent is receiving government assistance. Further, in situations where parents have equal or shared physical custody time, the parent earning more pays the parent who earns less money child support.
Court Ordered Child Support Explained
Child support payments are for the benefit of the child. Utilizing the Court to compel child support payments may occur if the payments are not made. Once a court order for child support is in place, a parent who does not honor their support duties may be held in contempt and face fines, probation, garnishment, and even jail time.
Types of Court Ordered Child Support
Types of court ordered child support actions may include:
- A parent who is unwilling to pay child support
- A parent claims to be unable to pay child support
- A parent claims not to be the biological parent of the child
- The government pursues a non-paying parent in the event the custodial parent is receiving government assistance, i.e., “welfare payments.”
Child Support for an Ex’s Child
In Pennsylvania, a parent may need to pay child support, even if the child is not theirs if they acted in a parental role during the marriage. Called “paternity by estoppel,” it is a highly fact-specific type of case where the underlying test the Court applies is what is in the best interest of the child. While rather unusual, in the appropriate case a parent with no genetic link to a child may be ordered to pay child support.
Child Support While Unemployed
A parent may file a petition with the Court to modify a child support order if they experience a significant loss in income. While unemployment will not likely result in the permanent dissolution of a child support obligation, petitioning the court to address the issue is a responsible and proactive way to avoid willful non-compliance with a court’s order. The legal obligation to pay child support is to maintain what is in the child’s best interest and generally does not end due to the loss of employment.
Summary of Court Ordered Child Support
Child support is intended to be just as it sounds, financial contributions to the well-being, care, and day-to-day maintenance of your child. If a parent is unwilling to provide child support, filing to compel the payment of child support may be necessary. If a parent is unable to pay, an enforcement action may be filed against them. As each case is unique and fact-specific, put Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC’s decades of combined experience to work for you! Retaining an experienced family law attorney helps you craft the best strategy for your court ordered child support case.