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Understanding the income shares model

Are you the parent of a minor child or children in Pennsylvania who is getting divorced? Maybe you have never been married to your child’s other parent. In either situation, one fact is true and that is the fact that both parents have a financial responsibility to their child. If you are raising your child and interested in seeking child support from the other parent, it will be important for you to understand how these awards are determined.

As explained by the Pennsylvania Code, the state’s program for awarding child support is based upon a philosophy referred to as an income shares model. This means that the state views the financial support of children to be the joint responsibility of both parents. As such, the amount of money earned by each parent will be taken into consideration when making a final determination for a child support award.

The state does allow parents to preserve a minimum amount of money for themselves and this is called the Self-Support Reserve. It is important to note that the income shares model is used even if support is to be paid to a third party such as a relative or someone within the foster system, not just only for parents.

If you would like to learn more about how child support award amounts are determined and what may influence the amount you must either pay or will receive, please feel free to visit the financial care for children page of our Pennsylvania family law and child support website.