By Gerald Shoemaker, AAML Penn Fellow | Hangley Aronchick Segal Pudlin & Schiller PC
Effective January 1, 2022, the Supreme Court adopted new and revised child and spousal support rules. This is nothing surprising or unusual since the Guidelines are reviewed every 4 years. Here is a summary of the changes which may impact your support matter:
1. Under the old Guidelines, there was an artificial reduction in the basic child support by 30% to account for assumed parenting time. Under the new Guidelines, that fiction is removed; however, the economic data has been updated so the numbers generally go down in both the lower and higher income cases. For the vast majority of cases, the child support numbers increase. The spousal support calculations have not been modified or changed in any substantial manner.
2. The new Guidelines address earning capacity as follows:
a. the Court shall not adjust a party’s income if that party took a lower-paying job to defeat a child or spousal support obligation or if the party left or changed employment voluntarily or for cause.
b. the Court shall not impose an earning capacity greater than one full-time job to the parties in a support action.
c. the Court shall consider child care expenses when imputing an earning capacity to a party. It’s worth noting that it does not mandate that child care expenses be included in the calculation but instead requires the court to consider those expenses when assessing an earning capacity to a party.
d. the list of factors for a Court to consider is more extensive than in previous versions of the Guidelines.
3. A person paying support still gets a downward adjustment if that person has custody of the child or children for 40% or more of the time (counting overnights). There is no adjustment for less than 40% despite the elimination of the 30% adjustment noted above.
4. The prior Guidelines were not clear on whether a party paying support would be able to submit expenses to the other party for reimbursement, such as expenses for camp, unreimbursed medical expenses, private school, and extra-curricular activities. The new Rules are clear that those expenses are allocated between parties such that the party paying support is permitted to seek reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses.
In a vast majority of cases, the child support paid will increase. The only times when you will see decreases are when the parties have lower wages or when the parties have substantial income. Regardless of your income level, you should contact your attorney to determine whether an adjustment in your child support is appropriate. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact our office and we can assist you in determining the appropriate child support amount to be paid.