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August is Child Support Awareness Month

August marks Child Support Awareness Month, which can be a good time for those who have either gone through or may go through divorce to educate themselves on child support issues. Pennsylvania parents who face child support issues on an ongoing basis may wish to know more about how the law impacts their rights and responsibilities. While individual child support orders will vary from case to case, there are some basic things that can be kept in mind.

First is the apparent misconception that only men pay child support, which simply isn't true. Statistics reveal that approximately 15 percent of those who pay child support are women. Interestingly, child support payments received are not considered to be taxable income. Unfortunately for the parent who makes those payments, they are not tax deductible for them.

Some people may not realize that no national guidelines exist to set out child support payments. State law typically determines how much a parent will pay. Additionally, some parents try to conflate the issues of child support with child visitation, when they are intended to be two separate issues. The parent paying child support can't simply stop making payments just because the other parent makes it hard if not impossible for visits to occur. In that situation, the non-custodial parent would likely need to investigate their legal rights to ensure the child visitation orders are followed.

Parents who lose their jobs must still make their child support payments until and unless a judge issues a modification order. Also, child support is not considered to be dischargeable debt when someone files for bankruptcy. Pennsylvania parents who find themselves struggling to keep up with their child support payments would likely be best served by seeking a support modification based upon a showing of a substantial change in financial circumstances. In the meantime, payments should be continued if at all possible, rather than risking facing charges from the court for failure to make the payments.

Source: ebony.com, "10 Things You Should Know About Child Support," Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, Aug. 1, 2012

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