The popularity and increased accessibility of DNA testing has changed many family relationships in Pennsylvania. While decades ago, the science was poorly understood, DNA tests are now available to people simply seeking to learn more about their ancestry. Of course, DNA is also of critical importance in the courtroom. DNA paternity tests can be essential to child support and custody cases, especially for unmarried parents.
In Pennsylvania, some lawyers have noticed that courts are trending toward awarding alimony payments to men. A survey conducted at the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers showed that 45 percent of U.S. divorce attorneys observed growing legal trends of bestowing alimony obligations on divorced women instead of men. More mothers are also accountable for making child support payments than they were in the past.
For many single parents in Ohio, child support can be critical to covering the basic educational and medical needs of their children. These funds often help parents to make ends meet, and contrary to stories about high-profile celebrity cases, the funds that they receive are often the bare minimum. The U.S. Census Bureau tracks facts about child support across the country, and the results may be surprising to many. Among the statistics maintained by the bureau are the number of single parents receiving child support, how much is owed and how much is actually paid each year.
Dealing with the burden of unpaid child support can be difficult and overwhelming for many Pennsylvania families struggling to pay the bills. Since delinquent child support can wreak such havoc on the lives and well-being of the children involved, enforcement mechanisms are highly needed. One of the most successful and widely used implementation mechanisms for child support payments has been payroll withholding at the point of employment. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) reported that in fiscal year 2016, $33 billion in child support payments was collected through its systems. Of that number, 75 percent was collected through payroll withholding from people's job.
The new tax law could make a difference in the way Pennsylvania high-income couples negotiate divorce settlements. The way the tax code handled alimony payments for 75 years changed when President Trump signed the legislation in December. Instead of giving a tax deduction to divorced people who pay alimony, it will be handled like child support. Starting at the beginning of 2019, ex-spouses who pay alimony will not be able to deduct it at the end of the year and those who receive it won't have to pay taxes on the amount they get.
When parents in Pennsylvania fall behind on child support, one way that they may be compelled to keep paying that support is through wage garnishment. On Sept. 27, the ADP Research Institute released a study indicating that 7 percent of workers across the country have their wages garnished. The highest number of garnishments are for child support, and these are largely paid by men. Fewer than 30 percent of wage garnishments are women's, and they tend to have their wage garnished for other reasons, such as student loans or consumer debt.