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Pennsylvania Family Law Updates, Events & Useful Tips Surrounding Family Law Issues

TWENTY DOLLARS UP OR FOUR DOLLARS DOWN? The New Support Guidelines Bring Significant Changes To High Income Cases.

Posted in Support

The Pennsylvania Rules of Court are a slender little 1,500 page volume published a couple of times a year.  One of the subjects covered by the rules is the support guidelines. The support guidelines have been around since 1984 and are updated based on new demographic data every four years.  In some instances the committee that proposes rules to the Supreme Court also makes amendments to the procedure.  Otherwise, it is only the numbers that change.

2013 is a numbers change year and the data is not very different.  We did a brief comparison of guideline amounts for families with 1-6 children and combined net incomes of $5,000 to $30,000 per month.  Here is what we found.

Monthly                 1             2             3             4             5             6

5000.                  944.        1350.     1566.       1749.     1924.      2092.         Current  

                         v 960.        1369.     1586.      1772.      1949.     2118.           Effective 8/9/13 

10000.             1385.       1965.      2266.     2532.       2785.    3027.            Current

                        v 1399.      1981.      2281.     2548.       2803.    3047.          Effective 8/9/13 

20000.              2147.      2994.      3426.     3827.       4209.   4575.            Current

                         v 2135.      2997.     3422.     3822.       4205.    4570.          Effective 8/9/13 

30000.               2756.      3777.     4210.     4703.       5173.    5623 .           Current     

                          v2801.       3836.    4277.     4718.       5190.   5641.            Effective 8/9/13

In a nutshell it appears that on the same income most of the amounts went up $20.00 a month while some declined $4.00-5.00.  So even though new guidelines are themselves a “change in circumstance” which allows for modification by itself (i.e., income did not change) the changes are essentially negligible within the grids (up to $30,000 per month). 

Get beyond $30,000 a month in net income and the changes are noteworthy. The guidelines establish a presumptive minimum which is $2,801 for one child at $30,000 a month.  For each dollar over that $30,000 a percentage is employed using the chart below.  These changes are:                              

After 30k.          1 child  was       6.5%  now. 8.5%

                            2 children          8.               11.6

                            3.                       9.2              12.6

                            4.                      10.3            14.3

                            5.                      11.3             15.8

                            6.                     12.3             17.1 

So if the household net income is $50,000 a month and one child is involved, child support is $2,801 on the first $30,000 and 8.5% of the next $20,000.  An order entered today would be $4,101 ($2801 + (20,000 x .065).  Effective August 9th, that same child will merit $4,501.00 per month.  Note also how the percentages grow with the number of children.  The same $50,000 income and six children now takes the order up by $960 a month. 

For high income earners, these revisions represent a significant change to their child support case.  It is worth noting that revisions to the child support guidelines are a de facto “change in circumstance” and grounds for either party to file a petition to modify.  For those who receive support, the new guidelines may be an opportunity to revise the child support award, even if there has not been a change of income for both or either side.