Everything changes after a separation or divorce. Siblings who used to live under the same roof might suddenly be living apart, shuffling back and forth between their parents' new, separate homes. Family finances are different, too. One of the biggest changes is that one parent might be making payments to the other. Child and spousal support become part of everyday life.
Although it's possible to obtain child or spousal support in Crawford County without an attorney, you shouldn't handle such an important matter alone. The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has years of experience helping Crawford County residents make the best child and spousal support arrangements for themselves and their families. Call us at 888-535-3686, or tell us about your case online.
Pennsylvania's Expectation of Spousal Support
In Pennsylvania, married spouses are expected to financially support each other and their kids for as long as they're married to each other.
When spouses get divorced or separated, this financial support obligation still remains but takes on another form.
The now ex-spouses will have to figure out if one spouse will financially support the other and who will pay for the kids' expenses. If they can't figure these things out on their own, Pennsylvania's family courts will decide for them.
Child Support Payments in Pennsylvania
Child support payments in Pennsylvania generally cover kids' basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. In some cases, other expenses may be covered depending on the circumstances and the child's specific needs. In general, the parent who doesn'thave custody of the kids makes payments to the parent who does.
The state's Child Support Program (SCDU) handles child support payments and processes them through the Pennsylvania Child Support Program (PACSES) system.
How Pennsylvania Calculates Child Support
In Pennsylvania, how much child or spousal support a spouse gets depends on many things. The courts use guidelines and formulas to calculate support amounts. These guidelines take into account many factors that will vary from case to case.
For example, the spouses' incomes, the cost of living in the county where they or their kids live, and how many children are involved are some of the things courts will consider when determining support amounts.
In addition, whether the spouses are separated, if one spouse has already filed for divorce, or if the couple is officially divorced all affect the amount and kind of support they'll get.
Calculating Child Support in Crawford County
In Crawford County, child support is based primarily on state guidelines and the "Income Shares Model," which is the idea that children should receive the same proportion of their parent's income that they would've received if their parents hadn't split up.
Each spouse's net monthly income is a major factor in determining support amounts. PACSES generates a support amount based on income information and state guidelines. There's a rebuttable presumption in Crawford County that this amount generated by PACSES is accurate and correct.
How Long Does Child Support Last in Pennsylvania?
Child support payments in Pennsylvania generally last until a child turns 18, or until they're legally emancipated. Support payments can last longer if the child needs long-term support. For example, if a child has special needs or a disability that prevents them from working or living independently, support payments might last long after the child turns 18.
Generally, if a paying spouse still owes some support payments when the support period ends, they'll have to continue to make payments until they pay off everything they owe.
For example, if a spouse hasn't been making their required child support payments and the child turns 18 during this time, that spouse is still on the hook for all of the support payments that they owed before the child turned 18.
Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania,spousal support payments are generally made by one spouse to the other to protect the financially dependent spouse from financial hardship. The amount of spousal support and how long the agreement lasts vary from case to case. Some spousal support payments are quite large due to one or more of the parties' income, while others are more modest. Similarly, some spousal support agreements last for a short period of time — such as the time it takes for a divorce to be finalized — while others last for many years. It all depends on the circumstances of each case.
Types of Spousal Support in Pennsylvania
Several kinds of spousal support are available in Pennsylvania. How much support a spouse gets and what kind of support they get both depend on many factors, such as whether the parties are officially divorced and whether one spouse has filed for divorce.
General spousal support is available when the spouses are separated but not officially divorced. With general support payments, one spouse pays for the other spouse's basic living expenses.
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) is spousal support that's available when one spouse has officially filed for divorce. APL can be awarded while a divorce is pending, but a spouse can't receive both APL and general spousal support at the same time.
Post-divorce alimony refers to ongoing payments that are made to the financially dependent spouse after the parties divorce. These payments cover the spouse's basic expenses and can continue long after the spouses are divorced.
Equitable reimbursement is another form of support that's available in Pennsylvania. These payments allow a spouse to complete their education or training so they can improve their job skills and earning potential.
The LLF Law Firm's experienced Family Law Team can help you figure out which kind of support you're entitled to, how much you're entitled to, and how to go about getting it.
How Pennsylvania Calculates Spousal Support
The amount of support a spouse is entitled to in Pennsylvania varies from case to case and depends on many things, such as:
- Whether the spouses have officially separated
- How long the spouses were married
- Whether one spouse has filed for divorce
- Each spouse's education, income, and earning potential
- Whether a spouse has a disability that limits their earning potential
- Whether one spouse raises the children full-time
- Whether either spouse is expecting money sometime in the future, such as from a pending sale or an inheritance.
In Pennsylvania, spouses aren't automatically entitled to alimony. Alimony payments are allowed only when they're reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.
If you're unsure how much spousal support you're entitled to or how to go about getting it, contact the experienced Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm. We'll help you figure out how much support you're entitled to – and work hard to help you get it.
Pennsylvania Court Orders for Child and Spousal Support
A spouse who's seeking child or spousal support in Pennsylvania typically files for it, and then a family court judge issues a court order that outlines the terms of the support agreement. The agreement will set forth the payment amount and the terms of the payment obligations.
Support actions are generally brought in the county where the kids and the paying parent live. This can change if, for example, the parties live in different states.
Anyone who violates a support order risks getting into serious trouble. A spouse who doesn't make their support payments can face criminal contempt charges and wind up in jail.
The Court Process in Crawford County, Pennsylvania
Child and spousal support procedures in Pennsylvania follow state and county laws and rules. The process can be complicated and difficult to understand, but the experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm can help you figure it all out.
In Crawford County, the Domestic Relations Section is part of the Family Court, and it establishes and enforces child and spousal support obligations in the county. It's part of the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas and is located at:
898 Park Avenue, Suite 11
Meadville, PA 16335.
Getting a support order involves filing for support and then attending support conferences. During the conferences, the parties get together to try to figure out support terms, such as how much money a spouse will get and how often they'll get it. These conferences can help the parties nail down support amounts and maybe even save them the trouble of having to go to court. The process can also involve hearings.
There are forms to file and deadlines to meet every step of the way. Knowing what to file and when can be tough to figure out on your own. The experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm can help you navigate the complicated Crawford County family court system.
Filing for Support in Crawford County, Pennsylvania
In Crawford County, the process of filing for support closely follows the process that's laid out on the Pennsylvania Child Support website. You can file for support at the Crawford County Domestic Relations Section or through the state's e-filing system.
A complaint for Alimony Pendente Lite should also be filed with the Crawford County Domestic Relations Office or electronically through the Pennsylvania Child Support website. The LLF Law Firm can help you file for the support you need and deserve.
Support Conferences in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the domestic relations office conference is an important part of the support process. Spouses will often come to an agreement on a support amount during the conference. Figuring out the spousal support amount during the conference saves the parties the trouble of having to attend a hearing.
If the parties can't agree on an amount during the conference and the case does wind up at a hearing, the conference wasn't a waste of time. This is because the process at this point usually moves along faster because of all of the information that was collected during the conference.
Even if the parties agree on a support amount, the conference officer can tell the court not to accept it. This is so the court can protect spouses who are struggling financially from agreeing to unfair support amounts out of desperation.
The experienced LLF Law Firm attorneys can be a fantastic resource at support conferences and hearings. We can advise you every step of the way and look out for your best interests.
What Happens After a Complaint for Support Is Filed?
After a complaint for support is filed in Crawford County, the case is assigned to a conference officer and then scheduled for an informal conference. If the parties agree on support amounts during the conference, they'll sign a support agreement, which is then forwarded to a judge who will issue a support order.
If the parties don't agree on an amount, the conference officer will recommend one, and the agreement will serve as an interim support order. If either party doesn't agree with the amount, they can request a hearing within 20 days. At the hearing, both parties will have a chance to provide evidence to support their side of the story. A final order will be issued based on the information the spouses provide at the hearing.
Experienced LLF Law Firm attorneys can be a huge help at this stage of the process. We can help you make informed decisions and ensure that you tell your side of the story.
Appealing a Support Decision in Crawford County, Pennsylvania
Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to appeal a support order decision. The process in Crawford County generally follows the state's appeal process.
In general, the spouse who wants to appeal a support order has 20 days to do so. They have to file a demand for a hearing with the Crawford County Domestic Relations Section.
The experienced Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm can help you figure out if an appeal is the best course of action in your situation, and if so, we can help you file a timely appeal.
Modifying a Support Order
It's possible that at some point, one or both parties may want or need to modify a child or spousal support order. In Crawford County, a spouse who wants to modify a support order has to show a "substantial and material change" in their circumstances. Some of the changes that can justify a modification include a change in a spouse's income, a change in custody arrangements, the death of one of the spouses, increases in childcare expenses, and the emancipation of a child.
A spouse who wants to modify an existing support order must submit a Petition for Modification to the Crawford County Domestic Relations Section (DRS) or through the state's E-Services website. They'll then attend a conference to discuss their modification request, where the DRS will decide if they'll change the support order. The experienced Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm can help you with every step of the modification process and help you ensure that your support agreements accurately reflect your current situation and support needs.
Enforcing a Support Order in Crawford County
If your ex isn't making their support payments, you're not without recourse. You can ask the court to enforce the order. Pennsylvania judges can enforce support orders in many ways. For example, they can:
- Add interest to support payments
- Enter another judgment against the non-paying spouse
- Make the non-paying spouse put up collateral for their future support payments
- Seize the non-paying spouse's property and up to half of their wages.
In Crawford County, if a spouse doesn't make their support payments or otherwise comply with their support order, in addition to the enforcement options that are available under state law, the county can:
- Attach the non-paying spouse's unemployment and/or workers' comp benefits
- Take the matter to the Enforcement Court
- Use an electronic funds transfer, pay-by-phone, or credit card payment
- Intercept the non-paying spouse's IRS refund
- Report the non-paying spouse to the credit bureaus
- Suspend the non-paying spouse's driver's license
If you're not getting the support payments you're entitled to in Crawford County, contact the experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm for help.
Violating a Child or Spousal Support Order in Pennsylvania
Anyone who violates a Pennsylvania support order by not making their child or spousal support payments risks getting into serious trouble. Support orders are legally binding court orders, so anyone who doesn't make support payments can face criminal contempt charges. Basically, if you don't pay your support payments, you could wind up in jail.
If you're having trouble making your child or spousal support payments or aren't receiving your support payments, you should seek immediate legal advice. The LLF Law Firm's knowledgeable Family Law Team can help you figure out the best way forward.
Why You Need an Experienced Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
Child and spousal support cases can be emotional and intense. There's so much at stake, and everything can seem overwhelming. You don't have to go through the process alone.
Working with an experienced family law attorney who's knowledgeable about the Crawford County legal system will give you the best chance of obtaining all of the support you're entitled to and deserve. An experienced attorney can also help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure that you get to tell your side of the story.
The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has years of experience successfully helping clients with child and spousal support matters throughout Crawford County. We know the ins and outs of the family court system and will guide and support you every step of the way.
Retain a Crawford County, Pennsylvania, Child, and Spousal Support Attorney
Crawford County residents who need help with child support, spousal support, or anything related to Pennsylvania family law should contact the experienced Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm.
Whether you're looking to file for child support, are struggling to make your spousal support payments, are preparing for a hearing, want to make your ex pay past due spousal support, or need help filing paperwork, our knowledgeable team is here for you. Call us at 888-535-3686, or tell us about your case online.