Child Support

Notaro & Associates, P.C. is proud to offer representation in all areas of support, including but not limited to child support, alimony, support hearings, exceptions, and appeals.  Competitive hourly rates as well as some flat fee services are available, often on short notice depending on our calendar.  Please contact us at 412-281-1988 for more information on representation in your child support or alimony matter.

In Pennsylvania, a parent has an obligation to pay a sum of money for the maintenance of his or her child. The duty to support continues until the child is 18 or emancipated, regardless of the relationship between the parents. The amount of child support is determined by statutory guidelines.

A parent may request a modification of child support based on "Material and substantial change(s) in circumstances," which are generally conditions relating to an increase or decrease in wealth or income, change in employment, retirement, or disability.

Below is an abbreviated and summarized version of part of what the Pennsylvania Pa.R.C.P. and/or Pa.C.S.A. provides on child support.

(Please note that this content may not be continuously updated, and thus may not contain the most recent updates and/or revisions of the Pennsylvania laws and supplemental information. This information is provided for overview and information purposes, and is not meant to be legal advice. It is always best to consult with an experienced family law attorney, who utilizes much more than the following information, including caselaw, statutory law, and other resources to provide legal advice.):

§ 4321. Liability for support 
§ 4322. Support guideline. 
§ 4323. Support of emancipated child. 
§ 4324. Inclusion of spousal medical support. 
§ 4325. Payment of order of support. 
§ 4326. Mandatory inclusion of child medical support.

 


 

§4321. Liability for support.

Subject to the provisions of this chapter:

  • (1)   Married persons are liable for the support of each other according to their respective abilities to provide support as provided by law.
  • (2)   Parents are liable for the support of their children who are unemancipated and 18 years of age or younger.
  • (3)   Parents may be liable for the support of their children who are 18 years of age or older.

§ 4322. Support guideline.

(a) Statewide guideline.--Child and spousal support shall be awarded pursuant to a Statewide guideline as established by general rule by the Supreme Court, so that persons similarly situated shall be treated similarly. The guideline shall be based upon the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support. In determining the reasonable needs of the child or spouse seeking support and the ability of the obligor to provide support, the guideline shall place primary emphasis on the net incomes and earning capacities of the parties, with allowable deviations for unusual needs, extraordinary expenses and other factors, such as the parties' assets, as warrant special attention. The guideline so developed shall be reviewed at least once every four years.

(b) Rebuttable presumption.--There shall be a rebuttable presumption, in any judicial or expedited process, that the amount of the award which would result from the application of such guideline is the correct amount of support to be awarded. A written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the guideline would be unjust or inappropriate in a particular case shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption in that case, provided that the finding is based upon criteria established by the Supreme Court by general rule within one year of the effective date of this act.

§ 4323. Support of emancipated child.

(a) Emancipated child.--A court shall not order either or both parents to pay for the support of a child if the child is emancipated.

(b) Marital status of parents immaterial.--In making an order for the support of a child, no distinction shall be made because of the marital status of the parents.

§ 4324. Inclusion of spousal medical support.

In addition to periodic support payments, the court may require that an obligor pay a designated percentage of a spouse's reasonable and necessary health care expenses. If health care coverage is available through an obligor or obligee at no cost as a benefit of employment or at a reasonable cost, the court shall order an obligor or obligee to provide or extend health care coverage to a spouse. Upon failure of the obligor to make this payment or reimburse the spouse and after compliance with procedural due process requirement, the court shall treat the amount as arrearages.

§ 4325. Payment of order of support.

Unless procedures established by the department for the State disbursement unit provide otherwise, an order of support shall direct payment to be made payable to or payment to be made to the domestic relations section for transmission to the obligee or for transmission directly to a public body or public or private agency whenever the care, maintenance and assistance of the obligee is provided for by the public body or public or private agency.

§ 4326. Mandatory inclusion of child medical support.

(a) General rule.--In every proceeding to establish or modify an order which requires the payment of child support, the court shall ascertain the ability of each parent to provide health care coverage for the children of the parties, and the order shall provide health care coverage for each child as appropriate.

(b) Noncustodial parent requirement.--If health care coverage is available at a reasonable cost to a noncustodial parent on an employment-related or other group basis, the court shall require that the noncustodial parent provide such coverage to the children of the parties. In cases where there are two noncustodial parents having such coverage available, the court shall require one or both parents to provide coverage.

(c) Custodial parent requirement.--If health care coverage is available at a reasonable cost to a custodial parent on an employment-related or other group basis, the court shall require that the custodial parent provide such coverage to the children of the parties, unless adequate health care coverage has already been provided through the noncustodial parent. In cases where the parents have shared custody of the child and coverage is available to both, the court shall require one or both parents to provide coverage, taking into account the financial ability of the parties and the extent of coverage available to each parent.

(d) Additional requirement.--If the court finds that health care coverage is not available to either parent at a reasonable cost on an employment-related or other group basis, the court shall order either parent or both parents to obtain for the parties' children health insurance coverage which is available at reasonable cost.

(d.1) Medical support notice.--The department shall develop a medical support notice for use by the department or domestic relations section in accordance with procedures established by the department. The medical support notice shall comply with national standards established by the Federal Government for medical support notices. The department or domestic relations section shall send the medical support notice to the employer within two business days after the date of entry of an employee who is a new hire into the Commonwealth directory of new hires under section 4392 (relating to employer reporting).

(e) Uninsured expenses.--The court shall determine the amount of any deductible and copayments which each parent shall pay. In addition, the court may require that either parent or both parents pay a designated percentage of the reasonable and necessary uncovered health care expenses of the parties' children, including birth-related expenses incurred prior to the filing of the complaint. Upon request of the domestic relations section, the department shall provide to the domestic relations section all birth-related expenses which the department has incurred in cases it has referred to the domestic relations section for child support services.

(f) Proof of insurance.--Within 30 days after the entry of an order requiring a parent to provide health care coverage for a child or after any change in health care coverage due to a change in the parent's employment, the obligated parent shall submit to the other parent, or person having custody of the child, written proof that health care coverage has been obtained or that application for coverage has been made. Proof of coverage shall consist of at a minimum:

  • (1)   The name of the health care coverage provider.
  • (2)   Any applicable identification numbers.
  • (3)   Any cards evidencing coverage.
  • (4)   The address to which claims should be made.
  • (5)   A description of any restrictions on usage, such as prior approval for hospital admissions, and the manner of obtaining approval.
  • (6)   A copy of the benefit booklet or coverage contract.
  • (7)   A description of all deductibles and copayments.
  • (8)   Five copies of any claim forms.

(g) Obligations of insurance companies.--Every insurer doing business within this Commonwealth shall be obligated as follows:

  • (1)   to permit the custodial parent or the provider, with the custodial parent's approval, to submit claims for covered services without the approval of the noncustodial parent and to make payment on such claims directly to such custodial parent, the provider or, in the case of Medical Assistance patients, to the department;
  • (2)   to provide such information to the custodial parent as may be necessary to obtain benefits, including copies of benefit booklets, insurance contracts and claims information;
  • (3)   if coverage is made available for dependents of the insured, to make such coverage available to the insured's children without regard to enrollment season restrictions, whether the child was born out of wedlock, whether the child is claimed as a dependent on the parent's Federal income tax return, whether the child resides in the insurer's service area, the amount of support contributed by a parent, the amount of time the child spends in the home or the custodial arrangements for the child;
  • (4)   to permit the enrollment of children under court order upon application of the custodial parent, domestic relations section or the department within 30 days of receipt by the insurer of the order;
  • (4.1) not to disenroll or eliminate coverage of any child unless the insurer is provided satisfactory written evidence that a court order requiring coverage is no longer in effect or that the child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage through another insurer which will take effect no later than the effective date of such disenrollment;
  • (4.2) to receive, process and pay claims (whether or not on behalf of a child), including electronically submitted claims, submitted by the department within the time permitted by law without imposing any patient signature requirement or other requirement different from those imposed upon providers, agents or assignees of any insured individual;
  • (5)   to provide the custodial parent who has complied with subsection (j) with the same notification of termination or modification of any health care coverage due to nonpayment of premiums or other reason as is provided to other insureds under the policy; and
  • (6)   except as provided in paragraph (4.2), to not take into account the fact that any individual, whether or not a child, is eligible for or is being provided medical assistance when enrolling that individual or when making any payments for benefits to the individual or on the individual's behalf.

(h) Obligations of noninsurers.--To the maximum extent permitted by Federal law, the obligations of subsection (g) shall apply to noninsurers providing health care coverage within this Commonwealth, including health maintenance organizations, self-insured employee health benefit plans and any other entity offering a service benefit plan.

(h.1) Obligations of employers.--Every employer doing business within this Commonwealth shall be obligated as follows:

  • (1)   in any case in which a parent is required by a court order to provide health coverage for a child and the parent is eligible for family health coverage, the employer shall permit the insured parent to enroll any child who is otherwise eligible without regard to any enrollment season restrictions;
  • (2)   if the insured parent is enrolled but fails to make application to obtain coverage for such child, to enroll the child under the family coverage upon application by the child's other parent, the domestic relations section or the department;
  • (3)   not to disenroll or eliminate coverage of any such child unless the employer is provided satisfactory written evidence that the court or administrative order is no longer in effect, the child is or will be enrolled in comparable health coverage which will take effect not later than the effective date of such disenrollment or the employer has eliminated family health coverage for all of its employees;
  • (4)   to transfer health coverage for any child to the health coverage of the employer upon receipt of a medical support notice under subsection (d.1) issued by the department or a domestic relations section within 20 business days after the date of the notice; and
  • (5)   to notify the domestic relations section whenever the insured parent's employment is terminated.

(i) Obligations of custodial parent.--The custodial parent shall comply with the insurer's existing claim procedures and present to the insurer one of the following documents:

  • (1)   a copy of a court order as defined in subsection (l); or
  • (2)   a release signed by the insured permitting the insurer to communicate directly with the custodial parent.

(j) Enforcement of order.--The employee's share, if any, of premiums for health coverage shall be deducted by the employer and paid to the insurer or other entity providing health care coverage. If an obligated parent fails to comply with the order to provide health care coverage for a child, fails to pay medical expenses for a child or receives payment from a third party for the cost of medical services provided to such child and fails to reimburse the custodial parent or provider of services, the court shall:

  • (1)   If, after a hearing, the failure or refusal is determined to have been willful, impose the penalties of section 4345(a) (relating to contempt for noncompliance with support order).
  • (2)   Enter an order for a sum certain against the obligated parent for the cost of medical care for the child and for any premiums paid or provided for the child during any period in which the obligated parent failed or refused to provide coverage. Failure to comply with an order under this paragraph shall be subject to section 4348 (relating to attachment of income).
  • (3)   Upon failure of the obligated parent to make this payment or reimburse the custodial parent and after compliance with due process requirements, treat the amount as arrearages.

(k) Enforcement against insurers.--Any insurer or other entity which violates the obligations imposed upon it under subsection (g) or (h) shall be civilly liable for damages and may be adjudicated in contempt and fined by the court. 
(l) Definitions.--As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

"Birth-related expenses." Costs of reasonable and necessary health care for the mother or child or both incurred before, during or after the birth of a child both in or out of wedlock which are the result of the pregnancy or birth and which benefit either the mother or child. Charges not related to the pregnancy or birth shall be excluded.

"Child." A child to whom a duty of child support is owed.

"Health care coverage." Coverage for medical, dental, orthodontic, optical, psychological, psychiatric or other health care services for a child. For the purposes of this section, medical assistance under Subarticle (f) of Article IV of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31, No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code, shall not be considered health care coverage.

"Insurer." A foreign or domestic insurance company, association or exchange holding a certificate of authority under the act of May 17, 1921 (P.L. 682, No. 284),2 known as The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a risk-assuming preferred provider organization operating under section 6303 of The Insurance Company Law of 1921; a health maintenance organization holding a certificate of authority under the act of December 29, 1972 (P.L. 1701, No. 364),4 known as the Health Maintenance Organization Act; a fraternal benefit society holding a certificate of authority under the former act of December 14, 1992 (P.L. 835, No. 134),5 known as the Fraternal Benefit Societies Code; a hospital plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 61 (relating to hospital plan corporations); a professional health service plan corporation holding a certificate of authority under 40 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to professional health services plan corporations); or a similar entity authorized to do insurance business in this Commonwealth.

"Medical child support order." An order which relates to the child's right to receive certain health care coverage and which:

  • (1)   includes the name and last known mailing address of the parent providing health care coverage and the name and last known mailing address of the child;
  • (2)   includes a reasonable description of the type of coverage to be provided or includes the manner in which coverage is to be determined;
  • (3)   designates the time period to which the order applies;
  • (4)   if coverage is provided through a group health plan, designates each plan to which the order applies as of the date the order is written;
  • (4.1) requires that, if health care coverage is provided through the noncustodial parent's employer and that parent changes employment, the provisions of the order will remain in effect for the duration of the order and will automatically apply to the new employer. The new employer shall enroll the child in health care coverage without need for an amended order unless the noncustodial parent contests the enrollment; and
  • (5)   includes the name and address of the custodial parent.

"Medical support." Health care coverage, which includes coverage under a health insurance plan or government-subsidized health care coverage, including payment of costs of premiums, copayments, deductibles and capitation fees, and payment for medical expenses incurred on behalf of a child.

"Reasonable cost." Cost of health care coverage that does not exceed 5% of the party's net monthly income and, if the obligor is to provide health care coverage, the cost of the premium when coupled with a cash child support obligation and other child support-related obligations does not exceed the amounts allowed by the Federal threshold set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (Public Law 90-321, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).

For more information on Child support, please contact Pittsburgh child support lawyer Bethany L. Notaro, Esquire.

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