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Court Does Not Reduce Child Support Due To Parent’s Student Loan Payments

April 11, 2016

In a January 2016 Pennsylvania Superior Court non-precedential decision, J.B v. B.B., the court held that father was not entitled to a reduction of his $1,500 per month child support payment even though father was paying $3,374 per month in student loan repayment.

The mother and the father had one child who was born in 2002. During the marriage, the father incurred significant student loans. At the time of the child support hearing, the remaining balance on father’s student loan was $327,000. The student loans were the result of father attending college and medical school.

In response to father’s request for a reduction, the court referenced the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines which provide that unlike taxes, non-voluntary retirement payments, and mandatory union dues, and other proper reductions from income in a child support calculation, student loans are not specifically included as an item that may be deducted from income for child support purposes.

Additionally, the court also reviewed a separate section of the Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines, which permits a reduction in child support if the party had unusual fixed obligations or any other appropriate factor that should result in a reduction. In reviewing this separate section, the court found that a student loan is not an “unusual” fixed obligation. Rather, student loans are quite common. The court found that father had monthly net income of $16,161 and his student loan payments were only 21% of his monthly net income. Finally, father had chosen to pay a higher monthly amount of student loan repayment than was required.  Father had the option of extending his payments and reducing his monthly obligation, if necessary.

Under the facts of the case, the court determined that the father was not entitled to a reduction in his child support payments.