Pennsylvania Child Support

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Child support laws are formed with the aim of providing financial, custodial and mental support to children of divorced parents. In Pennsylvania, guidelines pertaining to this issue were laid down on the notion that children of divorced or separated parents deserve the same proportion of parental earnings in case the parents were not separated or divorced. The proportion of parental income to be received by children is computed using a worksheet that generates the appropriate amount, although the court considers many other vital factors. Pennsylvania divorce child support guidelines are mentioned in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1910.16.

Some key points regarding Pennsylvania Divorce Child Support

  • In Pennsylvania, a court may order one or both the parents to pay for child maintenance. A number of factors are considered important in this context like:
  • Earning ability of the parents
  • Any special requirements of the parents or the child
  • Net income and financial resources of the parents
  • Any extraordinary expenses
  • Custodial arrangement
  • Any unusual circumstance that will warrant a deviation from the defined support formula
  • The court may order any parent to add the child to contribute to childcare expenses. In addition, the parent might also have to add the children to their health insurance.
  • This state uses a model known as "Income Share" to determine the subsidy amount.
  • The court may also ask both the parents to share the post-secondary educational expenses of their child.
  • According to 23 PA CS section 4321, child subsidy orders must be continued until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.
  • A request or appeal to change support orders must be filed within ten days from the date the orders were issued. This must be filed with the Court of Common Pleas in the County that issued the order.
  • One can file a petition for modification when there is any material change in the circumstances, like any significant change in the income of any party(father or mother).
  • Let us consider a parent who has applied for or is a recipient of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) or General Assistance (a.k.a. Cash Assistance). As per the law, such a parent must cooperate as far the establishment of paternity or pursuit of a support order is concerned. Sometimes, family violence or domestic violence or other conditions make it inappropriate or dangerous to act in accordance with such requirements. Then, the CAO (County Assistance Office) has the authority to excuse a recipient or applicant from cooperating on the basis of a 'good cause'.

Enforcement Measures

It is observed that many parents fail to disburse the support amount as ordered by the court. Then, the DRS (Domestic Relations Section) can execute one or more of the enforcement methods mentioned below:

  • Making liens on the real estate that the parent owns in the state
  • If the parent is minimum 30 days late in disbursing the amount, his/her name can be published in the newspaper.
  • If the parent owes an amount of more than 5,000 USD for more than 12 months and fails to disburse the amount to a child residing in another state, then this is regarded as a crime. Such a parent may be convicted. The court can order repayment of the unpaid support. The parent might be fined or imprisoned for 2 years, or both.
  • The settlement or benefits of the parent can be used to fulfill overdue child support.
  • Interception of lottery winnings (if they are more than 2,500 USD)
  • If the arrears are more than 2,500 USD, then an existing passport might be revoked. The renewal or issue of a new passport can be denied.

  • If the parent owes the support amount for a minimum of 3 months and the court has not ordered income withholding, the following type of licenses can be denied, suspended or not renewed:
    • Recreational
    • Occupational or professional
    • Commercial driver
    • Driver's
  • When a particular parent is late in disbursal of support, his/her name along with the amount of support that is owed are forwarded to the major credit bureaus
  • The court can order a parent to join an employment program or work
  • The court can issue orders to financial organizations (like credit unions and banks) to convert the economical assets to disburse the overdue support
  • The state and federal tax refunds can be used for overdue child support
  • The employers must pass on data regarding their new employees to the DRS. The DRS then matches this data with the child subsidy records. This method is used to locate a parent, establish support orders and enforce existing orders.

Payment of Pennsylvania Divorce Child Support

In this state, the following methods of payment are used:

  • Income withholding
  • On-line payments- Credit/debit card
  • Recurring automatic withdrawals (RAW)
  • Telephone
  • Money order
  • Cashier's check
  • Personal check

Every parent, divorced or the ones living together, is responsible to pay for the maintenance of their children. This is a legal and moral duty which should not be avoided at any cost. Divorced parents in Pennsylvania should also realize this fact and abide by the relevant guidelines. Remember, by doing this, you are not only fulfilling your responsibilities but also securing the future of your children.

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