Pittsburgh Child & Spousal Support Lawyer
Upon separation or divorce, the marital relationship may give rise to a support obligation between the separating couples. If there are shared children (regardless of marital status), the parent-child relationship may also give rise to an obligation of financial support. Pennsylvania rules on child support and spousal support are different than those in other states. If you are facing a divorce in Western Pennsylvania, it is vital to retain the legal help of a knowledgeable Pennsylvania family law support attorney experienced not only in the complex financial matters associated with support determinations but also with the nuances of Pennsylvania law.
The Pittsburgh child support & spousal support lawyers at Bunde & Roberts, P.C., have many years of experience negotiating or litigating support obligations in cases with complex, high net worth issues, as well as issueless complex situations. Each case is unique and requires a tailored response to maximize the benefit to the client. Our family law attorneys pride ourselves on offering dedicated, specialized service to each of our clients, customized to fit the particular circumstances that each of our clients face.
Types Of Support
Support Paid to a Spouse. The term “spousal support” is the support that one spouse, generally the spouse with the higher income, pays to the other spouse before a divorce action has been filed. After a divorce action has been filed, that support is known as alimony pendente lite (APL). There are certain defenses available to a claim for spousal support that are no longer available once the support becomes APL.
Alimony. Generally, spousal support and APL terminate after a divorce decree is entered and all economic issues have been resolved. Once the divorce decree has been entered and the economic issues are resolved, a spouse may be ordered to pay alimony as part of that resolution.
Child Support. Child support is how the parents of children who no longer live in a single household financially pay for their children’s needs while living separate and apart. Unless special and very specific circumstances exist, child support ends when a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Pennsylvania no longer obligates separated or divorced parents to contribute to their child’s college education. However, spouses may obligate themselves to do so in a marriage settlement agreement.
Determining Support in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has enacted support guidelines for the determination of spousal support, APL, and child support. The guidelines contain formulas and a table that define the support obligation at various income levels. The guidelines also include considerations for the sharing of certain expenses such as health insurance costs, childcare, extra-curricular activity costs, private school tuition and mortgage expenses. In the case of child support, the amount and type of custody each parent possesses may affect the amount of child support ordered. The court may permit deviations from the guidelines based on certain situations. Generally, parties can seek to modify spousal support, APL, and child support by showing a change of financial circumstances.
Alimony is different from other types of support. The support guidelines do not apply to alimony. The court determines the amount and duration of the alimony based on a list of factors found in the Divorce Code. These factors examine a parties’ reasonable and take into consideration, among other things, the equitable distribution of marital assets. Since alimony is considered a secondary remedy to property distribution in Pennsylvania, it is not awarded in all cases. An award of a greater percentage of the marital assets may be made in lieu of alimony. Further, note that alimony awarded by the court is modifiable, but negotiated alimony under a marriage settlement agreement is not modifiable unless the agreement says it is.
A dedicated Pennsylvania support attorney can help you evaluate your finances to anticipate or argue an appropriate amount of support. The starting point for any support analysis is the net disposable income of each party. Sometimes, determining net disposable income is relatively straightforward, such as in the case of a W-2 wage earner. Other times, determining net disposable income is more difficult, such as in the case of a business owner, self-employed individual, or professional. There are many factors to consider in calculating net disposable income, such as the earning capacity of an unemployed or under-employed individual, and whether to characterize payments of money as income or property. We sometimes retain a forensic accountant and a vocational expert to assist in weighing these considerations.
Tax Consequences of Support
The calculation of taxes in relation to child support and alimony has changed in recent years as a result of new federal tax laws. As a general matter, as of 2019, spousal support and alimony paid to spouses (as of 2019) are not taxable to the payee or deductible to the payor. We provide advice regarding the tax implications of support in order to minimize our clients’ obligations, maximize their deductions, and consider the best strategies and optimal outcomes for any family law negotiation.
Contact a Knowledgeable Pennsylvania Family Support Lawyer
If you are facing issues regarding spousal support, child support, alimony, or any other Pennsylvania family law matter, our knowledgeable and experienced Pittsburgh spousal support lawyers are here to offer advice and representation. Call the family law firm Bunde & Roberts, P.C., today at 412-391-4330 for a consultation.