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Multiple Family Child Support Calculations and the Self-Support Reserve

Parents who pay child support and who have children with two or more people may be eligible for a reduction in their child support obligations. However, this reduction—also commonly called a “multi-family deviation”—is not available to every parent who has children with more than one person, and it is not a reduction which Domestic Relations is required to make.

First, Domestic Relations must calculate an individual’s separate child support obligations for each separate household. For example, a parent with three children residing in three separate households might normally pay $1,000 for Child 1, $800 for Child 2, and $200 for Child 3, based on the support guidelines, which take into account the parties’ differing incomes (see our other articles regarding support to learn more about how child support is calculated). If the total amount of child support obligations combined–$2,000 in this example—is more than fifty percent of the paying parent’s net monthly income (“net” being the amount left after taxes and mandatory deductions), then they may be eligible for a reduction in their support amount. If the parent in this example only earned $3,200 per month with a combined $2,000 in child support obligations, it is possible that Domestic Relations would reduce the amount of child support, though they are not required to do so.

If Domestic Relations deems a multi-family deviation necessary, they will proportionately decrease each child support obligation by an equal percentage. No household receives preference; it does not matter where the children fall in birth order, but rather all children are treated the same. If Domestic Relations chose to deviate in the above-mentioned example by 20%, then the obligation for Child 1 would be $800, the obligation for Child 2 would be $640, and the obligation for Child 3 would be $160.

In tandem with the multi-family deviation, the “self-support reserve” in Pennsylvania specifies that a parent must have a minimum amount of their net monthly wages left over after paying child support. Currently, the self-support reserve in Pennsylvania is $1,063, and this amount increases periodically due to inflation. Unlike the multi-family deviation, however, Domestic Relations MUST abide by the self-support reserve. In 2023, if a parent would have less than $1,063 left from their net wages after paying their combined child support obligations, then Domestic Relations MUST proportionately decrease each child support obligation sufficiently to ensure that the parent has at least $1,063 left from their net wages after paying support every month.

If you would like to learn more about child support in Pennsylvania and discuss the details of your unique case, contact Tanner Law Offices at (717) 731-8114 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.