Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines are intended to ensure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly. Accordingly, all parties making $3000 per month with 3 kids would pay the same amount of support based on the guideline amounts. The guidelines are based on an “Income Shares Model.” Accordingly, the guideline amount will be based on the combined net monthly income of both parties. However, there are circumstances which warrant a deviation from the guideline amount such as having a special needs child.
There are often additional financial, education, and medical costs associated with raising a special needs child. The child may be involved in counseling and/or specialized education. There may be frequent medical attention required. Sometimes, special supplies are needed to encourage good behavior and/or supplement their educational program. The Rules of Civil Procedure governing support matters do allow for deviations from the guideline amount. Rule 1910.16-5 lists the factors to be considered in deciding whether a deviation is appropriate. Reasons for any deviation must be clearly articulated. Rule 1910.16-6 discusses allocation for additional expenses independent of the basic support award. Additional expenses can be added in such as health insurance costs, child care costs, summer camp, private school tuition, unreimbursed medical expenses, and other needs. You can create a support order which would dictate these expenses be split between the parties in proportion to their income. Parties can agree to pay the provider directly for their share or for one party to pay the full sum and then seek reimbursement from the other party. It is always a good idea to keep detailed records of expenses for the children and provide proof of the costs.