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Court Increases Father’s Child Support Payment Due to Inheritance

April 25, 2016

In the 2015 Pennsylvania Superior Court Opinion E.R.L. v. C.K.L., the Court found that Father’s significant inheritance was a sufficient reason to increase his child support payment for the parties’ three children.

In 2014, Mother filed a Complaint seeking child support for the parties’ three children, and spousal support. During the proceedings, it was determined that Father had access to approximately $600,000 that he inherited while the child support obligation was pending.  In making its decision, the Court noted a prior Pennsylvania Court opinion, Humphreys v. DeRoss.  In Humphreys v. DeRoss, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the “corpus” of an inheritance is not income for the purposes of calculating a child support obligation. Thus, the court will not view the entire $600,000 as income to Father.

Although an inheritance is not “income,” the Court has authority to award an “upward deviation” based on the financial circumstances of a party.  Mother argued the $600,000 inheritance justified an upward deviation. Father responded that the guideline child support calculation was sufficient to provide for his three children.  Father further asserted that he intended to invest the $600,000 to provide him with additional income, which in turn would be available to provide support for the children.

The trial court agreed with Mother and awarded an upward deviation and directed Father to pay $2,267 in child support with an upward adjustment of $575 per month. The Court also pointed out that Father had quit his job due to the receipt of the $600,000 inheritance, and was not supportive of Father’s work-free lifestyle.  The Court noted that the $575 per month upward adjustment was consistent with the best interests of the children.