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Support Calculations: Wendy and Harv

Pennsylvania's support guidelines changed April 1, 1999. If your support order was before that date, you might want to have a court or your attorney review it. Child and spousal support is still based primarily upon the parties' respective net monthly incomes. The new guidelines permit the courts to consider many factors more consistently than they had under "old" guidelines.

Let's look at what the new guidelines do to the payments in Wendy and Harv's family. Assume the same basic facts but the first calculation and judgment were determined in 1998; the second calculation is made as if Wendy and Harv were in court after April 1, 1999.

Wendy and Harv are separated - not divorced. Wendy earns $21,000 per year, Harv earns $45,000. The parties' two children sleep overnight with Harv less than 40% of the year. Wendy lives in the marital home and pays the mortgage (which includes real estate taxes and homeowners' insurance) of $1,000 per month. She also pays day care ($80 per week) and camp ($3,500 per year) - expenses necessary so that the parties can work. Harv pays the $286 per month medical insurance for the family. Harv's tax filing status is "married filing separately" with one exemption; Wendy's is "head of household" with three exemptions.

Under the "old" guidelines the courts did not consistently adjust child support on the basis of the physical custody schedule. Now, if the children spend 40% or more of the overnights with the obligor there will be a downward adjustment in the child support.

The "old" guidelines permitted the payor to deduct the share of the health insurance for the other party and the children from his income available for support; the new guidelines, essentially share the health insurance expense pro rata, based upon the parties' percentage shares of their combined net incomes.

Under the "old" guidelines, while it was permissible (and Chester County used what it calls a Kinden credit to shift some of the burden of this expense) the courts usually did not adjust support to account for either party's paying both parties' joint mortgage obligation.

Day care and camp expenses (necessary for the parties to work) were usually split 50-50 under the old guidelines, regardless of the parties' incomes. The current guidelines distribute those expenses based upon each party's percentage share of the combined income.

Wendy v. Harv: 1998 calculations





Defendant : Harv
Children residing with Defendant




Plaintiff : Wendy
Children residing with Plaintiff




Gross Income




Less Deductions*



$ 128.10

Net Income




Combined Net




Proportional Expenditures**




Basic Child Support


$ 923.35


% of Combined Amount




Parents Obligation

$ 583.73


$ 339.62

Child Care

$ 319.03


$ 319.03

Spousal Support

$ 131.30



Monthly Total




Weekly Total

$ 238.63



* While some other deductions were permissible, the basic deductions were health insurance cost and taxes.
** "Proportional expenditures" refers to the percentage of income a family is reasonably expected to spend on the number of children they have based upon their combined incomes. The chart with the proportional expenditures is found in the guidelines. If this same family had four children and the same incomes the proportional expenditures would have been 33.7% - they would be expected to spend 33.7% of their incomes on their children.

Wendy v. Harv: same facts - calculations after April 1, 1999:





Gross Income




Less Deductions




Net Incomes




Combined Net








%of Combined Amount




Parents Obligation




Child Care




Health Insurance




Tuition / Camp




Spousal Support




Monthly Total




Weekly Total




Plus monthly Mortgage Deviation




*** BSO is the Basic Support Order and is calculated from a chart similar to the Proportional Expenditures chart except that it is somewhat more precise: with combined net monthly incomes of $4,082.37 and two children the BSO is $1,137 plus 20.44% of the amount over $4,022. If Wendy and Harv had four children the BSO would be $1,472 plus 26.51% of the amount over $4,022.

Before April 1, 1999, Wendy would have received $1034.05 per month from Harv for child and spousal support; he would have maintained the medical insurance at a cost of $286 per month; Wendy would have paid all of the mortgage, camp and day care at $1,638 per month. Now Wendy will receive $1,280.85 per month and each party will continue to have the same responsibilities.

©copyright 2001, Susan V. Edwards

Susan V. Edwards, Esquire
61 Cassatt Avenue, Suite 300
Berwyn, PA 19312
(610) 725-0733
fax (610) 725-0736

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