Philadelphia Family Law Topics

By: David M. Siegel

Factors Considered

When setting an amount for modification of child support, the court may consider the same factors used when formulating an original support order; these factors include the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not been dissolved, and the financial resources of the noncustodial parent. The factors to be considered for modification or termination as to each party are: (1) their ages, social conditions health, and whether there are any children dependent upon them for support, (2) the duration of the marriage, since the longer the marriage the greater a woman's claim for support becomes, and (3) their agreement as to the property settlement adopted in the divorce decree.

Failure to Pay

Noncompliance with a court order to make support payments is prima facie evidence of contempt. Where defendant's inability to pay child support was because of economic circumstances, the court was correct to find that an employment layoff and an attempt to become self-employed were not attempts to evade financial responsibility.

Father, did not make child support payments because of reliance on a late 1967 order which relieved him of the obligation to make such payments, and who did not willfully and contumaciously refuse to obey the child support provision of the divorce decree warranted the refusal by the trial court to issue a rule to show cause against father.

Failure to Reinstate Obligation

The trial court, after entering an order suspending a husband's child support payments during a period when the husband was disabled, could not subsequently hold the husband responsible for payments accruing after the disability had ended, when the court failed to reinstate the obligation according to the terms of its own order.

Held Sufficient

Trial court's finding that children were adequately provided for was supported by the evidence when $604,000, in addition to a portion of the annual alimony payments, had become available to provide for the two children's support upon decedent's death. Child support of $200 per month for a 16 year old was not grossly inadequate despite father's income of $41,000.

Incarceration of Obligor

Incarceration is comparable to an involuntary loss of employment, however, incarceration, as a foreseeable result of criminal activity, does not ipso facto relieve one of the obligation to pay child support. The matter can be looked upon when the obligor is released from prison. There will be an affirmative duty at that point to make support payments.

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