Child and Spousal Support in Lebanon County

When parents don't live together, or a marriage ends, child and spousal support provide financial assistance. Parents and former spouses pay support when they have an obligation to support a child or former spouse.

Of the two, child support is more clearly defined as far as the expectations of support. Spousal support, in comparison, can be more difficult to determine. Both depend on a variety of factors to determine how much support a parent or spouse will pay.

Even when all parties get along and agree on the need for support, attorneys can help their clients consider the future and anticipate and plan for events. By considering these eventualities, both parties can be better prepared to handle changes and avoid disagreements later on.

When the two sides disagree about support payments, attorneys can act as their client's go-between. They can help their clients focus on the big picture rather than the emotion of the moment.

The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team assists families in Lebanon County and throughout Pennsylvania with child and spousal support issues. Whether you're filing for a support order, seeking a modification, or challenging a failure to pay, LLF Law Firm can help. Contact us at 888-535-3686 or online to tell us about your situation.

About Lebanon County

Ninety minutes north of Philadelphia, Lebanon County is home to slightly less than 150,000 people. Lebanon County has a higher percentage of married people than Pennsylvania and the United States. The county also has a slightly lower divorce rate than Pennsylvania and the United States.

To file for child or spousal support in Lebanon County, you must reside within the county. Working or having previously resided in the county isn't enough: You must file based on the location of your current residence.

The following municipalities are in Lebanon County:

  • Annville Township
  • Bethel Township
  • City of Lebanon
  • Cleona Borough
  • Cornwall Borough
  • East Hanover Township
  • Heidelberg Township
  • Jackson Township
  • Jonestown Borough
  • Millcreek Township
  • Mt. Gretna Borough
  • Myerstown Borough
  • North Annville Township
  • North Cornwall Township
  • North Lebanon Township
  • North Londonderry Township
  • Palmyra Borough
  • Richland Borough
  • South Annville Township
  • South Lebanon Township
  • South Londonderry Township
  • Swatara Township
  • Union Township
  • West Cornwall Township
  • West Lebanon Township

If you are unsure where to file, LLF Law Firm can help.

Domestic Relations Office

The Lebanon County Domestic Relations Office handles child and spousal support as well as paternity issues within the county. Part of the Court of Common Pleas, the office can also help locate absentee parents or former spouses who aren't current on support payments.

The Domestic Relations Office provides a list of what documents to bring when filing for child or spousal support or seeking help in locating a missing parent. The office will refer to those seeking support as the plaintiff and those expected to pay as the defendant.

Child Support

Parents have an obligation to financially support their children. They do not have to have been married to the other parent as a prerequisite to child support. When someone has a child, unless they have severed their legal relationship with that child (such as via adoption), they must financially support that child.

At its most basic, the purpose of child support is to ensure a child has access to necessities such as food and shelter. In general, child support is more than providing the bare minimum and depends on the circumstances of a child's life and family.

The central consideration for child support is what's in that child's best interests. The second is ensuring some level of similarity between their two homes. Courts want to discourage parents from using money or the ability to provide a better quality of life to alienate a child from the other parent.

When parents break up, one consideration will be what a child has been accustomed to in their daily lives. Courts generally try to provide some consistency to a child's life.

Child support payments often cover:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Medical support and bills
  • Child care
  • Educational costs
  • Housing costs
  • Other expenses as needed

Child support orders should include plans for both health insurance, including payment, and any medical bills. As medical attention is often unexpected or an emergency, parents should discuss these plans in advance to limit the risk of delaying medical treatment or taking focus away from assisting a child suffering from illness or injury.

For separating couples, one question may be whether they want a child to remain in the same home until they leave for college and/or turn 18. Remaining in their home may allow them to continue to attend the same public schools and minimize disruptions to their social circle or activities.

Calculating Child Support in Lebanon County

Lebanon County uses Pennsylvania's measurement system for determining child support payments. The state has both a rubric and a calculator to help establish minimum child support payments.

The calculator can be a useful starting point, but it's generic. The actual calculation will focus on a much wider variety of factors and will differ depending on a child's and parent's circumstances.

The rubric lists the bare minimum of child support a parent must pay depending on their income and number of children. The state has separate calculations for children of high net-worth individuals.

Courts will consider any relevant factors when determining child support. Some commonly used factors include:

  • A child's age
  • Each parent's income
  • Non-wage income, such as money from rental properties or investments
  • Each parent's assets and liabilities, including if a parent is paying child support for other children
  • If a child has any unusual needs

Again, child support isn't about more than the bare minimum of support. If, for example, a child was attending a private school while their parents were married, courts may include that tuition as part of support payments.

As part of the conversation about child support, parents should discuss expected cost-of-living increases. This can be especially relevant when children are young, and payments will continue for a decade or more. Likewise, a child's interests may change, or hobbies may become more expensive as they grow.

Withholding Custody or Support

Recognizing the importance of the parent-child bond, parents cannot withhold a child from the other parent even when that parent isn't current on their child support payments. On the flip side, a parent cannot refuse to pay support payments because the other parent denies visitation. In both situations, the focus is on what's in a child's best interests, and the goal is to minimize disruptions or stress on a child.

Those who fail to pay agreed-upon or ordered child support face a range of punishments. Lebanon County lists some of the ways Pennsylvania may attempt to enforce a child support order:

  • Garnishing wages
  • Intercepting federal and state income tax refunds.
  • Seizing assets in financial institutions, such as money in a savings account
  • Submitting your name to the major credit bureaus
  • Suspending your Pennsylvania Driver's License and any other professional and/or recreational licenses you hold
  • Taking state lottery winnings
  • Denying a passport application or renewal
  • Holding you in contempt
  • Placing a lien on any real estate
  • Imprisoning you

Living in another state doesn't exempt someone from child support payments. Pennsylvania will work with other states to locate parents and hold them to their financial responsibility to their children.

Ending Child Support

Child support generally terminates once a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later in time. In other words, if a child turns 18 in February and graduates from high school in June, child support will terminate after graduation. Parents should keep in mind that these are the minimum requirements. Parents may agree to continue support payments until a child leaves for college or even until a child graduates from college.

Child support may be extended beyond these milestones when a child has a severe disability. That a child has a disability isn't enough to extend support: A child must be unable to care for themselves or live independently. When a child has a severe disability, parents may want to discuss setting up a special needs trust.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, often referred to as alimony, is more difficult to determine than child support. It's not automatically granted and is entirely dependent on the circumstances of the marriage.

Spousal support may be limited to the time between a couple's separation and divorce decree. It may be for a limited period of time after a divorce becomes final or extend indefinitely.

The three types of spousal support in Pennsylvania:

  • Alimony pendente lite: When a couple is separate but not yet divorced
  • Post-divorce alimony: Once a divorce is final
  • Equitable reimbursement: Not traditional alimony but a payment that is based on one spouse's financial contributions to the other, such as school tuition

As mentioned above, post-divorce alimony often ends if the spouse receiving payments remarries. One exception may be if the spouse is receiving equitable reimbursement: In this situation, marriage may not end the obligation to repay the amount.

These possibilities should be part of the discussion about alimony. The defendant's spouse will want to make sure certain events stop alimony payments. The plaintiff spouse will want to ensure their former spouse does not try to avoid agreed-upon payments. This situation was seen in 2023 when the singer Kenny G's ex-wife accused him of trying to end spousal support without selling real estate, which she was entitled to share.

Spousal Support Factors

One of the purposes of spousal support is to minimize the financial disruption that a divorce may cause. Alimony provides individuals with assistance as they begin the next chapter of their lives, and the couple's standard of living during their marriage is a consideration. Similar to child support, spousal support is more than the bare minimum.

For traditional alimony payments, some of the commonly used factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse's income and separate property
  • Each spouse's earning potential
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • The spouse's ages
  • How childcare responsibilities, if any, would affect one spouse's earning power
  • If other spouse needs support while training or attending school ahead of re-entering the workforce
  • If either spouse committed marital misconduct
  • What contributes each spouse made to the marriage

This isn't an exclusive list. Any other relevant factors may be included when determining alimony payments.

A spouse who stayed at home and has been married for twenty years is more likely to receive support than a spouse married for five years who worked the entire time. That both spouses earn an income isn't a bar to spousal support: If one spouse earns considerably more, they may be required to pay support.


Life changes, both expected and unexpected. Recognizing that circumstances can change, individuals may file to modify child or spousal support.

Lebanon County requires that individuals, either plaintiffs or defendants, notify both the other party and the Domestic Relations Office in seven days and in writing of any "material changes in circumstances."

The county gives examples of some potential reasons for modifications:

  • Loss or change of employment
  • Loss or change of income
  • Loss or change of insurance coverage
  • Change of personal address or change of address

This list isn't exclusive. Any situation that involves a change that affects support may be relevant. Modifications are also not just about a reduction in income: When either party realizes an increase in income, they should file, as it may impact either how much they receive or how much they pay.

Individuals receiving spousal support may also need to notify the Domestic Relations Office when they remarry. Spousal support often terminates when the spouse receiving support remarries.

Protect Your Assets

Child and spousal support exist to avoid individuals becoming a burden on the state. Support payments are more than just the bare minimum and consider a variety of factors, including the expected standard of living and parents' or spouses' income.

Whether the parties are civil or adversarial, our attorneys protect our client's interests and anticipate potential challenges or alterations with support agreements. The LLF Law Firm Family Law Team helps individuals throughout Pennsylvania with child and spousal support. Tell us more about your case by contacting us at 888-535-3686 or online.

Contact a skilled Family Law Team Today!

The LLF Law Firm 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. Our Family Law Team will go above and beyond the needs for any client and fight for what is fair.

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