Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Pittsburgh 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.

4 Reasons to Modify Child Support

Custody Pic5Either parent may seek to modify a child support order at any time. The moving party will need to show a substantial change of circumstances occurred since the final order was entered by the court.

What constitutes a substantial change of circumstances?

Common examples include:

  • One parent gets more custody time
  • One parent gets a significant pay increase
  • One parent gets laid off from work
  • A child seeks to participate in a new extra-curricular activity

Do not voluntarily quit a job to avoid paying child support, as a court can assign an earning capacity based on past income levels.

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

Calculating Child Support in Pennsylvania

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersQ: How do courts calculate child support?

 

A: Courts follow support guidelines created by the Pennsylvania Legislature when determining a child support order. Under Pennsylvania law, both parents must continue to support their children even after a divorce. The obligation generally continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last. In determining a child support obligation, courts consider the incomes or earning capacities of both parents. Statewide support guidelines establish a presumptive amount of support with the primary focus placed on income.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and PFAs. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

4 Reasons to Modify Child Support

child blowing away dandelion seeds in the blue sky

Either parent may seek to modify a child support order at any time. The moving party will need to show a substantial change of circumstances occurred since the final order was entered by the court.

What constitutes a substantial change of circumstances?

Common examples include:

  • One parent gets more custody time
  • One parent gets a significant pay increase
  • One parent gets laid off from work
  • A child seeks to participate in a new extra-curricular activity

Do not voluntarily quit a job to avoid paying child support, as a court can assign an earning capacity based on past income levels.

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

What is Family Law?

87486604At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, compassionate, and cost-effective representation in all family law issues. Family Law comprises a wide array of legal matters, including:

  • Divorce Litigation  In conventional divorce litigation, parties file suit and use the court system as a framework for litigating and negotiating issues including property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Spivak Law Firm handles divorce litigation; we are also certified in divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.
  • Child Custody  Child custody refers to both major decisions regarding the child as well as where the child resides. At Spivak Law Firm, we handle all child custody matters, including: custody complaints, custody conciliations, custody trials, custody modification hearings, and custody relocation hearings.
  • Protection From Abuse (PFA)  A PFA is a no-contact order that aims to protect victims of domestic abuse. Pennsylvania law defines domestic abuse broadly to include physical and sexual assault, harassment, and stalking. Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation for both defendants and plaintiffs in PFA cases.
  • Juvenile Delinquency  This refers to the process of adjudicating juveniles accused of crimes. At Spivak Law Firm, we handle all juvenile law matters and routinely accept juvenile court appointments from the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel.
  • Child Support  Child support payments continue until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. In Pennsylvania, judges apply statutory guidelines to determine the amount of support payable for each child. This formula is based on several factors, including monthly after-tax incomes of the child’s parents.
  • Spousal Support, Alimony Pendente Lite (APL), and Alimony  These refer to financial support given by one spouse to another. Spousal support and APL are based on a fixed percentage of the differences in the net incomes or earning capacities of the spouses. Alimony is based on the reasonable needs of the dependent spouse.
  • Paternity  Paternity testing may be required to determine the identity of a child’s father. Establishing paternity affects several other family law issues, such as asserting custodial rights and seeking child support payments.
  • Divorce Mediation  A divorce mediator is a third-party neutral who aims to help parties resolve all issues related to the divorce without the financial and emotional cost that often accompanies divorce litigation. Spivak Law firm is trained and certified in divorce mediation.
  • Collaborative Divorce  This relatively new and progressive means of divorce avoids the courtroom in favor of allowing parties to work out agreements with the help of their attorneys. Spivak Law firm is trained and certified in collaborative divorce.
  • Equitable Distribution of Marital Property  This refers to the formal court process for dividing marital assets and debts based on principles of fairness.
  • Adoption  There are many different types of adoption, including stepparent adoption, grandparent adoption, second-parent adoption, international adoption, and surrogate-mother adoption.
  • Estate Planning  Estate planning includes the preparation of various important legal documents, including: wills, trusts, special-needs trusts, and powers of attorney for finances, health care and mental-health care.

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

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersChild support payments in Pennsylvania continue until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If you owe child support but do not pay it, there are several enforcement measures that may be taken against you, including:

  • Your wages may be withheld
  • Your federal and state income tax refunds may be taken
  • Your bank or credit union may be ordered to turn over your financial assets
  • Major credit bureaus may be alerted
  • The following licenses may be suspended, denied, or not renewed:
    • Driver’s license
    • Commercial driver’s license
    • Professional or occupational license
    • Fishing license
    • Hunting license
  • Your passport may be denied or not renewed
  • Your lottery winnings may be taken
  • Your name may be published in the newspaper
  • Your overdue support may become a lien against all real estate that you own in Pennsylvania
  • You may be fined or imprisoned for up to two years

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

How To Change Your Child Support Order

122499577Child support orders can always be modified. Parents can petition the court to modify their child support order at any time based on a change in circumstance. Courts may change a child support due to any of the following factors:

  • A parent’s income significantly increases or decreases;
  • The child now has significant or continuing medical expenses;
  • There is a change in child care;
  • There is a change in medical insurance;
  • The parents now live together;
  • The child receiving support has turned 18 and graduated from high school;
  • The child starts living with the noncustodial parent or someone other than the custodial parent
  • The noncustodial parent is incarcerated
  • Other substantial changes in circumstance occur

To learn more about changing your child support order, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Paying Child Support in Pennsylvania

87486604In Pennsylvania, most child support is paid by income withholding, or wage garnishment, as ordered by the court and maintained in the state’s Child Support Enforcement System, which is the state’s child support computer.

Pennsylvania maintains monthly support orders, which charge the first of each month. If your employer gets a court order, the employer will take child support out of your pay and send it to the state’s Support Collection and Disbursement Unit (SCDU).

Support can also be taken from your unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, and retirement and pension benefits.

To speak with a 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.