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Pennsylvania Child Support Modification

When you pay child support in Pennsylvania, the obligation amount is based on a specific formula that begins with monthly income as the determining factor. But what happens when your monthly income drastically shifts because you changed jobs or had to take a leave of absence due to a family emergency? It doesn't happen automatically, but a parent who has had a change in circumstances might be able to change the child support order by filing for a modification.

The Pennsylvania courts calculate child support according to an "income shares" model. This means that the court will try to estimate the amount of money that the parents would've spent on the child had they remained together and combined their financial resources. The court uses guidelines to arrive at a child support amount and that amount is presumptively correct. Once the order has been finalized, the only way that a parent can modify it is by showing that there's been a "material and substantial change in circumstances" such as job loss or relocation.

Pennsylvania Child Support Modification at a Glance

For a detailed legal analysis of the law, an attorney's insight is necessary; however, a plain language synopsis can help provide a general understanding of the law. See the chart below for an overview of the statute detailing Pennsylvania's rules for child support modification.


231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.19

Modification vs. Termination

With child support modification, the obligation remains; the amount has either been reduced or increased. A termination means that the child support order has ceased and the obligor doesn't have to make payments anymore as happens, for instance, when the child is emancipated or reaches the age of majority.

Changes in Income

The change in income can be either an increase in income which would result in a higher child support obligation or a decrease which would result in a lower payment.

Changes in Parenting Time

Support obligations can also change if the parenting time changes as can happen when the parents transition to a shared parenting time arrangement or when there are multiple family adjustments.

Shared Parenting Time Adjustments

Pennsylvania provide for adjustment when the child spends 40% or more of overnight stays with the obligor parent.

Multiple Family Adjustments

For parents with multiple families, a change in support could result. 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.

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 Modification: Related Resources

Contact an Attorney for Help with Child Support Modification in Pennsylvania

Child support payments should be based on an appropriate amount for the parents involved. If your current order doesn't match with your new circumstances, you should consider filing a petition for a modification. Talk to an experienced Pennsylvania child support attorney as soon as possible to get started.

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