Right to Child Support

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Child support is paid between parents for the benefit of their children. It is up to the parents to timely file for support to get a support award established. They are also responsible for seeking any necessary modifications. Change in income of either party or a change in the custody schedule for the child can impact the amount of support owed. If you have requested support through the court, the court will assist in monitoring compliance with the order as well as petitions for contempt and enforcement for lack of compliance. If you have a private agreement for child support, you will need to keep track of payments and file for relief with the court if there is an issue.

While support is for the benefit of a child, the child cannot legally make any demands regarding support or seek to recoup payments. This issue has been previously addressed by the courts in Pennsylvania. In Chen v. Chen, 893 A.2d 87 (2006), parents had entered into a Propery Settlement Agreement with provisions for child support. Father had an obligation to notify of income changes that may warrant an increase in support but he never did. The parties’ daughter, once 18, filed to intervene in a pending petition for contempt and enforcement of the agreement which was initially filed by Mother. Daughter argued that as the intended beneficiary of the support, she had standing to pursue enforcement. The lower courts agreed and calculated unpaid support of over $59,000 due to Father’s failure to update the support award over the years despite increased income. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed the prior decisions finding that while children may be incidental beneficiaries of a support award, they do not have a direct interest in receiving cash payments. Instead, the intent is for support of the child generally through the parent with custody.