Child and Spousal Support in Lawrence County

When families break apart because of separation or divorce, everything changes. Family members have to adjust to a new way of living. Siblings who used to live under the same roof might be living apart. All of a sudden, they might find themselves going back and forth between their parents' separate homes. Finances are different, too. One of the biggest changes is that one parent might be making payments to the other financially. The issues of child and spousal support become part of everyday life. 

Although it's possible to obtain child or spousal support in Lawrence County without an attorney, you shouldn't handle such an important matter on your own. The Family Law Team at the LLF Law Firm has years of experience helping Lawrence 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  

Married spouses in Pennsylvania are expected to financially support each other and their kids for as long as they're married. When spouses get divorced or separated, this financial support obligation still remains but takes on another form. The now ex-spouses have to figure out whether one spouse will financially support the other and pay for the kids' expenses. If they can't agree on these issues, the family court will make these decisions for them.  

Child Support Payments in Pennsylvania 

Child support payments in Pennsylvania cover kids' basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. 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 help them calculate support amounts. These guidelines take into account many factors that will vary from case to case.  

For example, factors such as the spouses' income, 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 Lawrence County 

In Lawrence 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.  

PACSES generates a support amount based on income information and state guidelines. Each spouse's net monthly income is a major factor in determining support amounts. There's a rebuttable presumption in Lawrence County that this amount 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 on their own, 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, that spouse is still on the hook for all of the support payments that they owe before the child turns 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 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.  

Types of Spousal Support in Pennsylvania 

Several kinds of spousal support are available in Pennsylvania. How much support a spouse gets and also what kind of support they get depends 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 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 APL and 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 career 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 support you're entitled to, and the best way 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 an inheritance or pending sale 

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, 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 we'll 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, including the payment amount and the terms of the payment obligations.  

Generally, support actions are supposed to be brought to 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 big trouble. A spouse who doesn't make their support payments can face criminal contempt charges and wind up in jail. 

The Court Process in Lawrence 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 Lawrence 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 Lawrence County Court of Common Pleas and is located at: 

430 Court Street 

New Castle, PA 16101-3503. 

To file for support in Lawrence County, you have to appear in person with proper identification and also the identification of any minor children for whom you're seeking support.  

The process for getting a support order involves attending support 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 figure out support amounts and maybe even save them from having to go to court. The process can also involve hearings. At every step of the way, there are forms to file and deadlines to meet. 

Knowing what to file and when can be tough because it varies depending on what stage of the process you're in. The experienced attorneys at the LLF Law Firm can help you navigate the complicated family court system. 

Filing for Support in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania 

In Lawrence 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 Lawrence County Domestic Relations Section or through the state's e-filing system.  

A complaint for Alimony Pendente Lite should also be filed with the Lawrence 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 still has some value. This is because the process at this point usually moves along faster because of all of the information that's collected during the conference.  

Even if the parties agree on an amount of support, 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 Lawrence County, the case is assigned to a conference officer and 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 have 20 days to request a hearing. At the hearing, both parties will have a chance to provide evidence to support their side of the story, and a final order will be set based on the information the spouses provide.  

Experienced LLF Law Firm attorneys can be a huge help at this stage of the process. We can help you make informed decisions and tell your side of the story. 

Appealing a Support Decision in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania  

Depending on the circumstances, it might be possible to appeal a support order decision. The process in Lawrence 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 Lawrence 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, how to go about filing a successful 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 Lawrence 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 will 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 Lawrence 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. 

Enforcing a Support Order in Lawrence County 

If your ex isn't making their support payments, 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 Lawrence 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 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 

The Lawrence County Domestic Relations Section also maintains a Facebook page that posts photos of people who have active bench warrants against them because they're delinquent in their support payments and have failed to appear at their support hearings.  

If you're not getting the support payments you're entitled to in Lawrence 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 Team 

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 experienced family law attorneys who are knowledgeable about the legal process in Lawrence County 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 making costly mistakes and ensure that you get to tell your side of the story.  

The LLF Law Firm's Family Law Team has many years of experience successfully helping clients with child and spousal support matters throughout Lawrence 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 Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, Child, and Spousal Support Team 

Lawrence County residents who have questions about 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, want to make your ex pay past due child support, or need help filing paperwork or preparing for a hearing, our knowledgeable team is here for you. Call us at 888-535-3686, or tell us about your case online

Contact a Family Law Attorney Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience practicing Family Law in Pennsylvania. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you and your family, contact our offices today. Family Law Attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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