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When do Pennsylvania courts consider modifications to child support?

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Family Law

Child support is a financial arrangement established by the court to help ensure that a child’s needs are met. In Pennsylvania, these orders aren’t permanent and can be modified under certain circumstances.

What exactly qualifies as a reason to adjust child support? Exploring the situations where courts will consider modifications to child support can help all affected to make more informed decisions about their rights and options.

Understanding substantial change

The key factor in obtaining a child support modification is demonstrating a “substantial change in circumstances.” This means a significant shift in financial situations or living arrangements that was unforeseen when the original order was issued. Courts won’t entertain minor fluctuations in income or disagreements between parents.

A significant and involuntary change in income for either parent can be grounds for modification. This could include:

  • Job loss
  • Disability
  • A major promotion
  • A reduction in work hours due to childcare needs

Additionally, if the amount of time a child spends with each parent changes significantly, it can affect the support obligation. For example, a shift to a shared custody arrangement might warrant a reassessment.

As children grow, their needs evolve. Increased expenses for healthcare, education (including private school or extracurricular activities) and special needs can all justify a support modification.

Moreover, if a parent relocates for a job or other reasons, it could impact child-related costs and travel expenses. Furthermore, if one parent receives alimony or other financial assistance that significantly changes, it might affect the child’s standard of living. Ultimately, the death of a parent or the remarriage of either parent with additional dependents could influence the support obligation.

The modification process

If you believe a substantial change in circumstances justifies modifying your child support order, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. Remember, you need to provide evidence to support your claim of a substantial change. This can include:

  • Pay stubs
  • Medical bills
  • Childcare receipts
  • Relocation documents

The court will hold hearings to hear arguments from both sides and review the evidence. Pennsylvania courts prioritize the child’s well-being. Any modifications will be based on helping to ensure the child’s needs are adequately met.

Child support modifications are a complex legal matter. If you’re considering modifying your child support order, consulting with a reliable legal team can come in handy. They can help you determine if you have a valid case and help you navigate the legal process as effectively as possible.