Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Allegheny County Child Support Lawyer

Child Custody and Child Support

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.Contrary to popular belief, parents retain custody rights to their children even if they fail to pay court-ordered child support. Child custody and child support are two separate legal issues.

Just because you do not receive child support does not mean that you can refuse custodial access to the children. If you have a custody order, and you refuse to abide by its terms, you may be held in contempt for violating a court order, which carries the following potential consequences:

  • Up to six months in jail;
  • A fine up to $500;
  • Probation for up to six months;
  • Suspension of your driver’s license; and
  • Payment of the other parent’s attorney’s fees.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Penalties for Not Paying Child Support

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersIf you are entitled to receive child support, the system in Pennsylvania is set up to garnish wages from the paying spouse and deposit the money directly into your account.

If a parent fails to pay child support, the court may enter a judgment for the total amount of unpaid support, requiring immediate payment in full.

Failure to obey a support order of court could result in sanctions such as attorney’s fees and even imprisonment.

To speak with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What to Expect At Your Child Support Hearing

Custody Pic5In Allegheny County, many people resolve child support issues without need for a hearing. Parties first disclose their income and expenses to a domestic-relations officer usually in a small office or cubicle. The officer will usually run calculations based on state support guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Legislature. The parties then have an opportunity to reach an agreement as to the amount of support, if any. The officer at this first level does not have authority to enter a recommendation.

If the parties do not reach agreement, they will attend a hearing on the same day. The hearing is a mini-trial in which each party is sworn under oath and permitted to testify, introduce evidence, and cross-examine one another. The hearing officer will hear testimony, accept evidence, and issue a recommendation within 30 days. If either party is dissatisfied with the recommendation, he or she may file an appeal known as exceptions to be reviewed by the judge assigned to the case.

For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Support and Social Security Disability

83496541Are Social Security Disability benefits includable as income for support purposes? It depends what kind of disability benefits you receive. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are includable in “income” as defined by Pennsylvania law; but Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are not income for support purposes.

Whether you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) depends on your work history. To qualify for SSD benefits, you must have paid into the Social Security system by working for a certain amount of time. To qualify for SSI benefits, you need not have any work history at all. Unlike SSD, SSI is similar to a welfare program. SSI recipients must be disabled and have a monthly income that does not exceed a certain level.

To speak with a Pittsburgh family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Calculating Support in Pennsylvania

153715248In Pennsylvania, support is based upon the net monthly incomes of the parties. To calculate a party’s net monthly income, the following items are deducted from his or her gross income:

  • Federal, state, and local taxes
  • FICA (Social Security and Medicare) or self-employment taxes
  • Non-voluntary retirement contributions
  • Union dues
  • Alimony paid to the other party

In calculating support, the trial court must consider income from all sources. To learn more about calculating support, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Filing for Support in Pennsylvania

122499577To commence an action for spousal and/or child support, file a Complaint for Support in the Domestic Relations Section of the Court of Common Pleas in your county, where forms are provided. No fee is required to commence a support action in Allegheny County and many other Pennsylvania counties. The Domestic Relations Section then schedules the joint conference and/or hearing according to local rule. In Allegheny County, people who file for support receive a scheduling order with a hearing date usually set about four weeks away.

To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Defining “Income” for Child Support Cases

78287715Child support is largely based on parents’ income. At a child support hearing, both parents are required to bring federal income tax returns, including W-2s, and pay stubs for the last six months.

But what is “income” for child support purposes? According to Pennsylvania law, incomes includes:

–wages, salaries, bonuses, fees and commissions;

–net income from business or dealings in property;

–interest, rents, royalties and dividends;

–pensions and all forms of retirement;

–income from an interest in an estate or trust;

Social Security disability benefits;

–Social Security retirement benefits;

–temporary and permanent disability benefits;

–workers’ compensation;

–unemployment compensation;

alimony;

–lottery winnings;

–income tax refunds; and

–insurance compensation or settlements.

Income does not include public assistance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, Social Security payments for a child, and foster care payments.

To speak with a family law attorney, contact Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.