Equal Time Does NOT Equal No Child Support

 Do you think that because you have more time with your children than their other parent that you will not have to pay child support? Not according to the July 17, 2019, Order issued by Judge Dominick Motto in the Courts of Common Pleas of Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. According to the opinion issued by Judge Motto in Pierce v. Mayberry, a party with primary custody could still be ordered to pay child support, under certain circumstances. 

 Let’s dive in to this Order and explore the facts. 

Here are the facts: 

1.    Mr. Mayberry has overnight custody of the two minor children 54% of the time. 

2.    Ms. Pierce has overnight custody of the two minor children 46% of the time. 

3.    Ms. Pierce is a waitress earning less than minimum wage (as a side note, she was assessed minimum wage by the Domestic Relations Section, which was appropriate).

4.    Mr. Mayberry’s percentage of the combined monthly net income was 79.58%. 

5.    Ms. Pierce’s percentage of the combined monthly net income was 20.42%.

After credits for insurance coverage and overnight custody time, Mr. Mayberry was stillordered to pay Ms. Pierce $761.50 per month. Judge Motto’s Order is supported by a previous Order in the case of Colonna v. Colonna.  The Colonna case made its way up to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The Supreme Court indicated that when a parent that does not have primary custody of the children earns significantly less income than the primary custodial parent, that non-primary custodial parent may not be able to provide the children with a similar environment as the custodial parent.  This significant change in environment can have an adverse effect on the relationship of the non-custodial parent with the children. 

In other words, a child support obligation is not merely determined based upon custody and time with the children.  The support obligation factors in the respective incomes of the parents. If there is a large disparity between the parties' incomes, there is case law to support an argument for the custodial parent to pay support to the non-custodial parent.  

What does this all mean for you? 

If you have similar custodial parenting time, but a large difference in income, you may need to review your current order or agreement. Call Kinchloe Law at 215-301-9783 so that we can assist you in the assessment of your current situation and to discuss your options.