Attorney Ghen represents clients in child support or spousal support matters, as part of divorce or custody proceedings, paternity proceedings, and modification hearings. Child support and spousal support is money given, whether voluntarily or by court order, by a person to help pay for the necessities of life, such as food, clothing, and shelter. These may also include other established necessities such as educational or physical activities (e.g. music, karate, horseback riding, or dance lessons) that may have been voluntarily paid for you or your children while you lived together as husband and wife, an unmarried couple, or otherwise previously agreed to and then terminated without good reasons, by the party that used to pay for or contribute to such items.

Spousal support is a legal obligation that is established by marriage to a spouse. Child support is also a legal obligation established by being a parent of a child. It is paid to support “dependents” (i.e. spouse, children or both). Spousal support and child support are two separate legal obligations. Spousal support is support paid to a spouse that is determined by the law or a court to be the dependent spouse; that is the one that has “depended” on receiving money from the other spouse to pay for his or her necessities. Child support is payment for the necessities of the children.

Other types of support besides money may be filed for and awarded during a support action. The person filing for support can also ask the court to award or order that the one to pay support also pay for medical and hospital coverage for the dependent spouse and children. Additionally, if asked, the court may order that the one paying support also pay a share or contribute to payment of all medical, dental and prescription expenses not covered by insurance. The court may also require payment of a share of day care expenses for the children, which allows the dependent spouse to work or attend school.

Support law in Pennsylvania provides that the “custodial parent” (the parent the child lives with, see practice area, “Custody”) or the “custodial person” (any adult or agency caring for a minor child, see practice area, “Custody”), or any married individual living apart from his/her spouse may request support from the absent parent or spouse.

While both parents have an obligation to support their children, as does a spouse to support the dependent spouse, the amount of the support obligation depends primarily on the income of all parties involved in the support action. Income for support purposes is just about any form of financial gain; it is not defined the same as for income tax purposes. Many other factors are involved in a court making a support determination. For example, the custody arrangement between the parents will be considered in determining who receives and who pays the support. The parent or custodial person having the child or children more than fifty per cent (50%) of the time will receive the support and the other parent will pay it. However, a parent who has “custody” of the child 40% of the time may receive a reduction in the amount of support to be paid.

Support obligation for a spouse terminates upon the entry of a divorce decree (Alimony can also be awarded as post divorce payments). Support actions, whether for child support or spousal support, can become complicated. Applying for and obtaining child support or spousal support requires preparation that must be done before filing can take place.

Attorney Ghen represents clients in child support and spousal actions in Berks County, Pennsylvania.