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Pennsylvania Child Support Calculations

In Pennsylvania, the legal obligation of child support entails a parent providing for their child financially until the child reaches the age of majority (18). This involves one parent (the obligor) paying the other parent (the obligee) monthly to cover their share of child-rearing expenses. Pennsylvania, like many states, relies on the "income shares" model to calculate child support; this means that the combined income of both parents is the determining factor for the amount of support. The crux of the income shares model is that a child is entitled to receive an equivalent level of parental income that they would've received had the parents lived together and shared finances.

Pennsylvania bases its guidelines on the net (after taxes) income rather than gross income. You can get some idea of what the amount will be by using a child support estimator. However, that is just a starting point because there are other factors that affect the actual amount of the child support obligation; the factors include:

  • the monthly income of the parents;
  • the custodial schedule; and
  • the number of children covered by child support.

When the parents go to court for the child support order, the net income is determined and the support is calculated by a formula using the state support guidelines chart that determines the presumed correct amount. However, the presumption can be overcome with a written finding that shows the amount is inappropriate or unjust.

Pennsylvania Child Support Calculations at a Glance

Because the statutes contain lengthy explanations, the most accurate interpretation of the law comes from an attorney. However, understanding the law when it's presented in practical and plain language terms is something that anyone can relate to. See the chart below for a summary of the law that comprises Pennsylvania's child support calculations.


231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.16-1

Monthly income

Sources of income include:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Pensions
  • Interest income (estate or trust)
  • Unemployment compensation and worker's compensation
  • Disability benefits and retirement benefits
  • Income from rental property


Once the net income is established, each parent can deduct only certain expenses that reduce the amount of income that can be used the calculate the child support amount. Permitted deductions include the following:

  • Income tax obligations: federal, Social Security/Medicare, state and municipal
  • Mandatory union dues
  • Mandatory retirement contributions
  • Spousal support/alimony

Custodial Schedule

Shared Parenting Time Adjustments

Pennsylvania is one of a few states that allow adjustments for significant shared physical custody. The guidelines provide an additional adjustment when the child spends 40% or more of overnight stays with the obligor parent.

Multiple Family Adjustments

Pennsylvania's guidelines provide that a parent's child support can be reduced if the total of the obligation is more than 50% of their monthly net income. The rationale for this is based on the desire to treat children equally.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Pennsylvania Child Support Calculations: Related Resources

Talk to a Pennsylvania Attorney about Child Support Calculations

Getting a handle on child support issues is so important because it has a lasting impact on your child's life. If you have questions and concerns about Pennsylvania's child support calculations or other related matters, talk to an experienced child support attorney today.

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