Under Pennsylvania law, a child is entitled to material support from both parents. When parents separate or divorce, or even if they’ve never been married, the court can order regular child support payments to ensure that parents live up to their responsibilities. However, obtaining a fair order that’s appropriate for the circumstances often requires reliable guidance and representation from an experienced family law attorney. For more than 35 years, Richard J. Shiroff has helped parents from all walks of life negotiate child support agreements and fight for support orders in family court. I also represent parents in motions to modify and enforce existing support orders. When you retain my services, you can rely on my skill and my determination to deliver a favorable result.
The commonwealth has support guidelines based on the parents’ combined monthly income, minus allowable deductions. From the net income and the number of children to be supported, the guidelines provide a presumptive amount necessary to raise the children. That amount is divided between the parents in proportion to their share of the combined net income. The custodial parent is presumed to be paying out of pocket to support the child, but the noncustodial parent must pay a specific share of support to the custodial parent.
The final calculation is never quite so simple, though, since there are other factors a court must consider, such as:
As your advocate for a fair child support order, I am prepared to reach a settlement through negotiation based on a realistic look at your finances and your children’s needs. We can present that settlement to the court for approval. However, if the other parent refuses to be reasonable, I can also take your case to court. In such cases, I use the discovery process to uncover hidden assets and income that could influence the court’s decision and bring to the judge’s attention any pertinent facts that could weigh in your favor.
A child support order has the force of law behind it, and there are many collection tools available through the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement of the PA Department of Human Services. Even if you have to collect support across state lines, interstate cooperation makes that possible. Obligors who do not pay support can be jailed for contempt of court. They can also be subjected to various collection tactics, which include:
However, contrary to the popular myth of deadbeat parents who refuse to pay, about 95 percent of unpaid child support is due to the obligor’s inability to pay. When that happens, the obligor should seek a modification of support from the court. Modifications are available whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as unemployment or the failure of a business. A recipient parent can also request a modification upward if circumstances require, such as a health emergency for a child. If you need representation to request a modification or to oppose a motion to modify child support, I am prepared to help.
Richard J. Shiroff provides preeminent legal services in child support disputes. Call me at 610-253-1023 or contact me online to schedule an appointment. My office is located at 724 Lehigh Street, just a short walk from the Northampton County Courthouse.