Our friends at the Delaware Trial Practice Blog recently summarized a Delaware case involving a familiar Pennsylvania support concept – the mortgage deviation.

Leslie Spoltore of our Wilmington office discusses how the court upheld the reduction of a father’s support obligation by considering the mortgage expense related to the marital residence.  The expense were directly to the needs of the children (i.e. "shelter") and it resulted in cancelling out the father’s child support obligation completely.

The mortgage deviation in Pennsylvania is found at Rule 1910.16-6(e) and allows for the party residing in the residence to seek a deviation (either upward or downward depending on who has the support obligation) in the support amount regardless of who is the support paying party.  This deviation is available at the discretion of the court and different counties have different ways to deal with it beyond just the math – some counties are less inclined to award the deviation if the house is not being sold or there is a concern that this inflation (or deflation) of support could be a long term adjustment.

Regardless, the only absolute in Pennsylvania’s rule is that a mortgage deviation is not permitted after a final resolution of all outstanding economic claims.  In other words, if you get divorced and went through equitable distribution, your ex-spouse is not going to be required under any circumstance to contribute to your mortgage even if you can not afford it.

Delaware uses a different methodology, but the outcome between the two rules is similar.