Fast forward to 2017 and “Brangelina” has called it quits. According to “In Touch” magazine, Brad is refusing to pay the $100,000 Angelina has requested in child support. Although his reasons for the alleged refusal have not been disclosed, can Brad argue that he cannot afford this amount? What if the well-known movie star quit his Hollywood career, thus losing his usually high income? Can he do that?
The simple answer is no- just as in California, Pennsylvania law has protections in place to prevent this type of behavior; for example, let’s pressume we have a non-custodial parent who is a doctor making $200,000 a year. We learn at the support hearing that they have quit their prominent position and taken a job at McDonald’s, earning minimum wage in an attempt to reduce their payment obligations. Will the court consider this new salary, which would equate to just $15,000 a year? Nope- their child support obligation will be calculated using the $200,000 salary. Pennsylvania looks at “earning capacity” and not actual earnings. If a parent voluntarily assumes a lower paying position, they are still on the hook to make the higher support payment.
This is an extreme illustration, and calculating earning capacity is not always so simple. A person can rebut their assessed earning capacity with evidence that they are no longer being paid what they used to be. Can someone really be obligated to pay such a high amount in child support if he or she truly has no available work to bring in that high income?
This is where having an experienced attorney comes into play. Although child support payments are generally calculated using the parties’ respective incomes, a good attorney will argue why those income figures should be higher or lower as to benefit their client.
Contact Lisa Marie Vari & Associates today to learn how we can help you in your child support case.