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Do I have to pay child support over the summer?

During the school year, children often live primarily with one parent. However, once summer break starts children may switch households completely, split their time evenly between mom and dad's house or spend extended vacations with one parent.

This change in custody arrangements can lead the parent who is paying child support to question whether they have to pay support over summer break. So, do child support payments continue during summer break? The answer, in short, is yes.

Pennsylvania child support basics

Each state has its own guidelines for child support that dictate how much should be paid, when payments should be made, penalties for nonpayment, etc. However, these guidelines are influenced by rules set by the American Bar Association. There are ways to make sure your children are receiving an amount of financial support that is as fair as possible to both parents.

A good Pennsylvania family law attorney can help you understand the rules, and do some pre-calculations based on all the proper financial information. He or she can also help you come to an agreement about "extra" expenses like private school tuition.

Child support during summer vacation

In some unusual cases, aspects of your child support agreement can be changed in court, for instance, if you suffer major financial losses or you become seriously ill. However, there are some hard-and-fast rules about paying your court-ordered child support. One of these has to do with summer breaks from school.

Pennsylvania child support laws do not allow you to skip, reduce or stop making payments over the summer. The American Bar Association guidelines state that even if the noncustodial parent is housing the child over summer vacation, he or she is still legally required to make child support payments.

Why do I have to keep paying child support over the summer?

The reasons you have to keep paying child support in the summer have a lot to do with what child support is meant to cover. Courts have determined that financial support of a child means paying for rent or a mortgage payment, clothing, food, basic medical expenses, insurance premiums, electricity, gas and other costs associated with the maintenance of a proper living environment for your child.

Some expenses may be higher or lower from month to month. However, setting up a regular payment amount is the best way to ensure a child's needs are consistently met.
If the parent who pays child support but does not have custody of the child buys clothing, meals or sports equipment for extracurricular activities, the expense is considered a gift that is completely separate from the court-ordered child support payment amount.

So, even though your child might be spending part or all of his summer vacation with you, yes - you still have to make those child support payments. In some cases, your family lawyer may be able to negotiate an alternative payment agreement for summer months, but both parties have to agree to the arrangement.

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