Child Support Calculator

The official Pennsylvania Automated Child Suport Enforcement System (PACSES) website contains a child support calculator program that anyone may use, free of charge, to estimate the amount of child support they may have to pay or receive. The PACSES website uses the same computer program that Domestic Relations Officers use when they attempt to settle cases between parents in child support conferences throughout Pennsylvania.

Official PA Child Support Calculator

See the official Pennsylvania child support calculator here. Please note that Pennsylvania has enacted a new child support guideline, effective in May 2010.

PACSES Child Support Calculator

1. The PACSES child support calculator estimates each parent’s net monthly income by deducting their federal, state and local income taxes, FICA taxes, union dues, and mandatory retirement contributions in accordance with Pennsylvania’s child support law. The calculator does not consider itemized deductions when calculating federal income taxes; a standard deduction is used instead. Note that itemized deductions generally reduce a parent’s tax liability, so a parent who has itemized deductions may have greater net income than this program estimates.

2. The PACSES child support calculator assumes that all income is earned from employment, which is subject to 7.65% FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes. There is no adjustment for income generated by self-employment (Schedule C), which would be subject to 15.3% self-employment taxes, or rental income, interest and dividends, capital gains, corporate distributions or other types of income that are not subject to FICA taxes. All these types of income are treated the same as earned income. The PACSES program overestimates the income for self-employed parents and underestimates the net income for parents who have other types of income.

3. When you use the Pennsylvania child support calculator, start with the dollar amount shown in box 16 (state wages) from your W-2 form instead of box 1 (wages, etc.). Box 1 is your federal taxable income, which is equal to gross income minus pre-tax deductions. Most of the pre-tax deductions are not allowable for child support purposes.

4. Determining the income of each parent can be a complex task. For the most accurate calculation, contact a Pittsburgh child support lawyer. Child support income is not the same as taxable income. The statutory definition of income for child support purposes is much different than the definition of taxable income, and there are many legal issues that affect child support income. That is why the PACSES child support calculator is only an “estimator” and you may need experienced legal counsel to determine the correct amount of child support.

5. The old guidelines had an uppermost limit of $20,000 per month combined net income. The new guideline, effective in May 2010, has an uppermost limit of $30,000 per month combined net income and a fixed formula for determining child support is cases over $30,000 per month. The budget-based formula under Melzer v. Witsberger has been abolished as of May 2010. This may result in a change in child support for many high income child support cases. For a calculation of what you should be receiving or paying under the new guidelines, call me.