By: John M. Schaffranek, Esq.
The final step in determining a child support amount is accounting for any appropriate deviations to the base support amount that was calculated according to the method described in the previous part to this series. There are two types of deviations that the court may order: particularly listed deviations, and deviations that are based on other factors.
Of the particularly listed deviations, the court may deviate from the base support amount to account for child care expenses, health insurance premiums, unreimbursed medical expenses (such as co-pays and co-insurance payments), and mortgage costs. Generally, child care expenses, health insurance premiums, and unreimbursed medical expenses will be apportioned between the parties relative to their incomes. Therefore, the parent with the higher net monthly income will pay more for these expenses. With respect to the mortgage deviation, this is available where the recipient of support is living in the marital residence and the mortgage cost exceeds 25% of the total of the recipient's net monthly income and child/spousal support. The court then may order that the obligor pay a portion of the mortgage payment.
The court may also award a deviation based on a number of factors:
· unusual needs and unusual fixed obligations;
· other support obligations of the parties;
· other income in the household;
· ages of the children;
· the relative assets and liabilities of the parties;
· medical expenses not covered by insurance;
· standard of living of the parties and their children;
· other relevant and appropriate factors, including the best interests of the children.
In considering these factors, the court has discretion to craft an appropriate deviation. Unlike the particularly listed deviations, there is no definitive formula for calculating a deviation based on any of these factors. Ordinarily, child support in Pennsylvania is income-driven and expenses, therefore, are typically not factored into a support award. These provisions for deviation, however, show that there are some instances in which factors other than ordinary income can impact a support award.