By: Michael R. Chilcot, Jr., Esq.
On January 1, 2022, the Pennsylvania Support Rules saw some major changes – most notably the periodic update to the basic child support guidelines.
With the revision of the support guidelines, the presumption of 30% custody time to the payor has been eliminated. Instead, the rule makers opted for no presumption of custody time – the result of this was that it almost uniformly led to an increase in the amount of basic child support. The new guidelines assume expenses of an intact family living in a single household. The 2021 Comment to the rules states that the 30% presumption resulted in approximately a 5% decrease in the basic child support obligation. While the basic child support guideline generally increases with every revision, 2022 will have particular impact on the payor party with the additional ~5 % increase. Both the payor and payee should be aware of a potential to increase the monthly child support payment. However, despite the elimination of the 30% presumption, 30% remains the subtrahend in the shared custody adjustment which means there is not a commensurate increase in reduction of child support on the back end of the calculation.
As can be seen from the chart below, generally, as income and number of children increases, the difference in basic support increases as well – peaking at around a $1,550 per month difference at ~$22,000 monthly net income. Most notably, except for a very small portion on the bottom left of the graph (at ~$2,000/month combined monthly net income) there will be an increase in the basic child support.
To download this table, please click here.
The exception to the general rule would be for parties with more than $30,000 per month in combined net monthly income. Starting in 2022, the percentage for income above $30,000 to add to basic child support is 4.0% for one child and up to 6.3% for six dependent children. This is down from 8.5% to 17.1% respectively with the recent guidelines changes and will likely result in a payor above $30,000 combined monthly net income paying less support than was paid in 2021 and prior.
Some smaller changes in the Support rules that likely won’t affect as many people as the guidelines update include:
- Forced imputation of childcare expenses with earning capacity assessment
- Expense documentation submission timeframe
- Discretion in educational, extracurricular or developmental activities.
With the 2022 amendment to the Rules — specifically 1910.16-2(d)(4)(i)(D) — when the trier-of-fact imputes an earning capacity to a party who would incur childcare expenses, if the party were employed, the trier-of-fact must consider reasonable childcare responsibilities and expenses. Likely, this will lead to each county using an average or normalized monthly childcare expense to use in these earning capacity situations.
The party seeking allocation of expenses – unreimbursed medical expenses, extracurriculars, private school tuition, or summer camp – must now provide documentation of said expenses “promptly upon receipt.” This is different from previous years – the only requirement in prior years was that the documentation was due not later than March 31st of the following year. Payor and payee alike must be aware of this new requirement.
Lastly, now, the trier-of-fact shall apportion additional expenses to the parties if the expense is related to the child’s educational, extracurricular, or developmental activities and the expense is reasonable under the parties’ circumstances. Now, the standard is codified in the Rules and may lead to interesting and differing interpretations of what is “developmental” and “reasonable.” Experienced family law attorneys would do well to keep tabs of their county’s conference/hearing officers’ decisions as to what qualifies as an apportionable expense so as to better advocate for their clients.
Should you have any questions regarding the new Pennsylvania Support Rules, please contact Michael R. Chilcot, Jr.
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