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Child support issues for Pennsylvania parents to consider

Few people enter into a marriage believing that it won't be the "happily-ever-after" most envision. The reality of life, though, is that approximately half of marriages do eventually end in divorce. This can be even more emotionally damaging for children who are caught in the middle. That is one reason that Pennsylvania parents should strive to make amicable child support arrangements if at all possible.

Obviously, family courts typically have the last say-so when it comes to officially establishing the required amount of child support paid each month. That authority, however, doesn't mean that parents can't start planning ahead of time to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement before actually filing for divorce. If the situation seems fair to all involved, and most particularly benefits the children, a judge may well agree to go along with what the parents have agreed as being fair.

There are a few things that parents can keep in mind as they work on reaching such an arrangement. It may be helpful to determine how much the family has spent on basic expenses over the past year, along with anything beyond those basics. Further, parents can look at what it's going to cost to maintain their separate households once the split takes place. Some recommend that expenses such as housing, utilities, food, insurance and property taxes be kept to around 50 percent or less of an individual's pre-tax income. Another tip is to make sure that people have enough money left over to be saving up for the future; otherwise, it may be a sign that someone has overextended themselves financially.

Pennsylvania parents planning ahead should also factor in things like insurance policies and health care costs when trying to agree on a figure for child support. The fact that a couple is divorcing doesn't mean that they should automatically do away with all life insurance policies, for instance. If one parent dies unexpectedly, the children must still be provided for in the future. Divorcing spouses may want to change the beneficiaries to the children rather than the former spouse, but life insurance shouldn't be done away with entirely if it can be avoided. Parents should also keep in mind that, if a change in circumstances should occur, they can always return to court to seek modifications of existing child support arrangements based upon proof of a substantial change in circumstances.

Source: Fox Business, "Managing Finances Through a Divorce," Andrea Murad, Sept. 28, 2012

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