How Are Child And Spousal Support Determined?

Wooden representation of child and parent behind blocks spelling CHILD SUPPORT

Understanding child and spousal support determinations can be challenging. There are a few different factors that are taken into account by courts in Pennsylvania. Whether you’re the one paying or receiving support, having a family law attorney in your corner can help to ensure you reach a fair agreement. An experienced divorce lawyer at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad can explain how spousal and child support determinations are made and act as your advocate inside and outside of the courtroom.

Child Support In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania child support guidelines are based on how much time children spend with each parent, the number of children, the children’s reasonable needs, and both parents’ incomes. Typically, the custodial parent, or the parent who has the child the majority of the time, receives child support from the other parent. When parents share custody equally, support may be paid by the person with the higher income. If you’re going through a divorce, spousal support or alimony must be determined before an accurate child support calculation can be made.

Determining Child Support Amounts

Child support amounts are determined and may increase or decrease based on:

  • The standard of living for the children during your marriage
  • The age of the children
  • If either parent has unusual financial needs or obligations
  • Other household income
  • Each parent’s assets and liabilities
  • Any medical costs not covered by health insurance
  • Changes in child custody
  • Other factors relevant to the best interests of the child

Usually, parents must pay child support until a child turns 18 and graduates from High School, but payments may be stopped if the child is emancipated. If a child is disabled, one parent may be responsible for paying support past their 18th birthday.

Other expenses such as private school, childcare, and extracurricular activities may impact the amounts of child support payments. If one parent has access to affordable health insurance for the children, that parent will most likely be responsible for providing insurance for the kids, whether they are the custodial or non-custodial parent.

In some cases, both parents must cover the cost of health insurance. Each family situation is different, but this basic child support schedule based on combined monthly net income and number of children can give you an idea of how much your child support obligation may be. Before filing for divorce, child custody, or spousal support, it’s always a good idea to speak to an attorney to explore all options that may be available to you.

Spousal Support And Alimony Pendente Lite

There are three types of spousal financial support in Pennsylvania. Spousal support is paid when a couple separates, but before divorce is filed. During a divorce, a spouse may be awarded alimony pendente lite (APL). There is a basic formula that is used to calculate spousal support and APL.


There is no set formula for calculating the alimony someone will receive post-divorce. Judges consider the following factors when determining the amount, type, and duration of alimony:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s source of income and earning capacity
  • Age and physical and mental health of each spouse
  • Property brought into the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Potential inheritances
  • Assets and liabilities
  • Whether one spouse contributed to their partner’s education, training, or increased earning power
  • Contributions as a homemaker during marriage
  • Whether a custodial parent’s earning capacity is diminished
  • Education and time needed for the spouse receiving alimony to get training or education
  • The needs of both spouses
  • Marital misconduct
  • Tax implications of the alimony award
  • Whether one spouse lacks property to meet their financial needs
  • Whether the spouse receiving alimony can become self-supporting through employment

Judges typically use their discretion when determining the final terms of an alimony award. If you and your spouse are able to come to a fair child and spousal support determination on your own, your family law attorney can help you create a written agreement to submit to the court.

Contact A Family Law Attorney To Learn More

At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our divorce attorneys are well-versed in conflict resolution and the processes of Pennsylvania family courts. We assist families throughout Eastern Pennsylvania with issues such as divorce, child support, spousal support determinations, and other family law matters. Call us at 610-867-2900 in Bethlehem or contact us online to schedule a consultation. We have additional locations in Stroudsburg, Allentown, and Topton, Pennsylvania.


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