Child and Spousal Support: When Can I Modify the Amount?

In Pennsylvania, child and spousal support amounts are established using the guideline formulas described in Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-3.  These formulas consider and apply various factors, including income levels, health insurance premiums, childcare costs, mortgage payments on a marital home, and physical custody schedules, with the purpose of determining a guideline support amount. 

Once the guideline support amount is established and made into a court order, either party may subsequently file a Petition to Modify the support amount as a result of a substantial change in circumstance. 

What Is a Substantial Change in Circumstance? 

Any circumstance that materially changes the guideline support amount can be viewed as a substantial change in circumstance.  For example, an increase in income as a result of a promotion, pay increase, and/or bonus may cause a material change in the guideline support amount and warrant a Petition to Modify support.  Likewise, a decrease in income as a result of reduced hours, layoff, or disability may warrant a petition.

 It is also common for health insurance premiums and childcare costs to adjust annually, and as these changes occur, it is important to know that your support obligation may also be impacted. 

Further, it is important to remember that a change in the physical custody of minor children can impact the support amount when a child spends 40% or more of the overnights with the parent who pays support.      

Support issues can be complex, and your circumstances can change frequently.  If you believe that a support modification is appropriate, you should speak with an attorney at our firm who can assist you through the process.   

Several members of our team, including Lancaster family law attorneys John F. Pyfer, Jr.Robert H. Reese, Jr.Christopher C. StraubSandra Edwards GrayAlbert J. MeierJeffrey C. MurseKatharine Stone MartenyAnthony Knabb diDonato, and Megan H. Herr specialize in helping individuals with family legal matters.