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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, child support refers to the court-ordered financial responsibilities of non-custodial and custodial parents to their children. This order may result from a divorce, separation, child support action, or paternity action. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) is responsible for enforcing support orders in the state. Also, providing support payment and receipt services online through the Pennsylvania Child Support Program. The Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit (PA-SCDU) manages support payments.

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  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What is Pennsylvania Child Support?

According to Pennsylvania Statutes, child support is the amount of money parents pay towards the care and maintenance of their children. It includes the provision of food, clothing, medical bills, and other child care or maintenance costs. Title 23, Section 4321 provides liability laws for child support. Under this law, parents are responsible for the support of their children who are 18 years of age or younger, and in some cases, support of their children who are 18 years and above.

What Does Child Support Cover in Pennsylvania?

Under 23 Pa. C.S. §4322, Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines are used to establish the coverage of child support orders in the state. Child expenses covered by this law include:

  • Food, housing, clothing, apparel, transportation, and other monetary expenses
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Medical expenses
  • Education (basic)
  • Private school tuition, summer camp, or other expenses (upon approval of the court)

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Pennsylvania?

Family courts in Pennsylvania use an income shared model to determine child support payments in the state. This chart reveals the amount a parent is obligated to pay in support versus the other parent. The law calculates this according to the parents' combined net monthly income ($30,000 or less), and the number of children. Incomes above $30,000 are covered under the Rule 1901.16-3.1 of the Pennsylvania Code. A judge may also deviate from this model and determine child support based on the child's age, assets/liabilities of the parents, the child's best interests, special needs, and standard of living, among other determiners. According to 2016 data prepared by the Center for Policy Research, the average support order is $426 per month for new orders and $421 per month for modified orders. The Child Support Estimator may be used to estimate the amount of support from the parents' incomes, taxes, and expenses. However, this tool does not estimate combined net monthly incomes over $30,000 or non-custodial parent monthly incomes over $867.

How do I apply for Child Support in Pennsylvania?

Eligible parties may apply for child support in Pennsylvania through Child Support Website or in person at a local Domestic Relations Section (DRS). Individuals who may apply include the custodial parent or legal guardian, a legal representative acting on behalf, and a father seeking paternity for a child. To apply online through the website, applicants may use the E-Services platform. Applications submitted online are not filed until they go through a DRS reviewing process. As the timeframe may differ by county, the DRS may be contacted for more information.

Individuals applying directly to the DRS are required to read the Social Security Disclosure Form and print, complete, and sign the following documents:

Information that may be required from the applicant during the application process include:

  • Names
  • Birth dates
  • Addresses
  • Contact numbers
  • Social Security IDs
  • Employment information
  • Child paternity information
  • Latest paycheck
  • Latest tax return
  • Date of Marriage
  • Date of Divorce/Separation
  • Medical insurance information
  • Business license information
  • Previous case information

Applicants may also contact the DRS to find out if there are other forms required and if there is a need to schedule an appointment to submit the documents.

Once an application is approved, the DRS files the action with the court. There is a $40.29 fee deducted from the obligor's debt balance to file this action. This fee is payable when the party starts support payments. After filing, an initial conference date is scheduled with a hearing officer, and both parties are notified by mail. It takes 4 weeks between a filing and the conference.

How do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Pennsylvania?

An individual is required to pay the child support until termination or modification by a court. In Pennslyvania, child support payments may be terminated when the child is 18 years old, graduates high school, or is emancipated, by order of the court. However, this support may continue after the child is 18 years of age if the child is mentally or physically disabled. Parents may request a modification of a child support order under Rule 1909.19 to increase or decrease the amount of support. The petitioner may obtain this form in person at the Centre County Domestic Relations Service (DRS) or by completing, signing, and submitting a Petition for Modification/Termination/Reinstatement of an Existing Support Order to the local DRS. After receipt of this petition, the DRS schedules a modification conference and notifies the petitioner of the date, time, and place. The conference may be held 4 to 6 weeks from the filing date. A petition for modification may be granted if the obligor/obligee can show a financial or material change in their situation.

What is Back Child Support in Pennsylvania?

Back Child Support, also known as arrearages or past-due support, refers to the amount due from non-payment or missed payments of child support orders.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Pennsylvania?

Failure to pay back child support in Pennsylvania may result in incarceration/probation for up to 6 months and a $500 fine or less, property liens, seizure of bank accounts, suspension of driver/business license, passport denial, newspaper publication as a delinquent parent, among other penalties. The court may also send the defaulter's employee an income-withholding order to deduct the amount owed from wages. Parties who are owed arrearages may contact the Centre County Domestic Relations Service for procedures and instructions or call the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement Helpline on 1-800-932-0211 for inquiries on how to collect back child support.

Is there a Pennsylvania Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

No, there are no statutes of limitation on child support or arrearages in Pennsylvania. The support order may be terminated and closed when the child turns 18 and when all support/arrears payments have been made. The court may also order a continuation of the child support order with reason. However, paternities must be established by alleged fathers before the age of majority (age 18).

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