Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

So...what does child support really cover?

Child support in Pennsylvania is commonly regarded as covering everything except "extra" expenses such as summer camp, medical care, daycare, private tuition, and extracurricular activities such as sports and dance. But are these things really excluded? Recent Pennsylvania law would beg to differ.

In a 2006 Pennsylvania case, Gibbons v. Kugle, the court factored private school tuition payments into a child support order. The court reasoned that evidence of the family's history in attending private school was sufficient to establish that the family had a certain standard of living they were entitled to upkeep. Though the child support statute in Pennsylvania requires the court only consider costs that are "reasonable," the court decided that a standard of living dictated what was reasonable. It is therefore safe to assume that support orders are calculated on a case by case basis and are primarily based on the family's established and long term standard of living. Additionally, in Murphy v. McDermott, the court also factored private schooling into a support order, however the court in this case extended the rational of this inclusion to a test of the child's best interest. The best interest standard supplemented the standard of living consideration previously established in Gibbons v. Kugle.

It is logical to assume this rationale will also be applied to a reasonable level of children's extracurricular activities. In an earlier case, Holland v. Holland, the court ordered a daughter's equestrian activities be factored into the support the order. The court reasoned these activities fell into the category provided in the statute as "other needs." For more information on the child support guidelines, please see Pa. R. Civ. P. 1910.16-5.

Other References:

Gibbons v. Kugle, 2006 PA Super 264, 908 A.2d 916 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2006)

Murphy v. McDermott, 2009 PA Super 151, 979 A.2d 373 (Pa. Super. Ct. 2009)

Holland v. Holland, 444 Pa. Super. 251, 663 A.2d 768 (1995)

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