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Child Support and Reasons for Deviation from Guidelines

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Mother's, obligor's, receipt of financial assistance from her parents was not grounds for an upward deviation in support to obligee, father.

By Attorney Jeffrey B. Engle, Child Support Lawyer, Harrisburg, PA

In an April 23, 2013 opinion, (M.S.J. v. M.R.J., 2639 EDA 2012), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held in a non-precedential opinion that mother's/obligor's receipt of financial assistance from her parents over an eighteen month period does not increase her income, such that mother's support obligation should be reduced.

Father had primary physical custody of the parties' two children.  He was receiving support from mother.  He sought a modification in support to increase mother's obligation based upon recent payments received by mother from her parents.  Mother had been receiving between $2200 and $1400 per month from her parents over an eighteen month period.

The trial court held that "income" for support purposes could not be defined as payments received from her parents as a gift.  The trial court instead determined that such payments could be viewed as the basis for a deviation in the guideline amount.  However, father's income from the fair market value rental ($1500) of his home should likewise be considered for economic deviation reasons.  The father was a minister and his rental amount of $1500/m was paid for by the church.  The trial court held that these two amounts offset and did not award father an increase.  The Superior Court agreed and affirmed.

"Income" for support purposes includes the following:

  1. wages, salaries, bonuses, fees and commissions;
  2. net income from business or dealings in property;
  3. interest, rents, royalties, or dividends;
  4. pensions and all forms of retirement;
  5. income from interest in an estate or trust;
  6. social security disability benefits, social security retirement benefits, temporary or permanent disability benefits, worker's comp and unemployment comp.
  7. alimony
  8. other entitlements to money or lump sum awards, without regard to source.  Including lottery winnings, income tax refunds, insurance compensation or settlements, awards and verdicts, and any form of payment due and collectible by and individual regardless of source.  See Pa.R.Civ.P. 1910.16-2.

What's not included as "income"?

  1. Social security payments for a child;
  2. SSI and Public assistance benefits; and
  3. foster care payments.

If you're involved in a custody dispute that is heavily contested or there are important support issues, you need an attorney.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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