Under Pennsylvania law, parents, whether they are married to each other or
not, are equally responsible for the support of their children. In Pennsylvania,
this obligation is in effect until the children reach the age of 18 or when
There are child support enforcement agency offices in every county in Pennsylvania.
One of the principal goals of the child support enforcement program is to ensure that all child support payments are received in full. The primary enforcement tools of the support collection unit are administrative, and do not require the involvement of the court. Administrative remedies can be used to collect all arrears/past due child support, regardless of whether they have been reduced to a judgment. Where administrative remedies do not prove effective, however, the support collection unit can also petition the court for enforcement.
Administrative Enforcement - The following sources of income can be redirected to custodial spouse in the case of non-payment of child support:
Court Enforcement - There are numerous avenues that the court may follow to prosecute non-payment of child support:
If a hearing find that a child support payer has willfully violated an order of support (was financially able to meet the obligation, but intentionally failed to do so), the court must order the payer to pay the counsel fees of the other party. Further legal action may include to commit the payer for jail up to six months or place the payer on probation.
Enforcing Child Support
A child support order is as enforceable as any other court judgment or decree. A parent who is owed child support can use each and every legal tool available to enforce the order, including wage garnishments, wage assignments, contempt of court decrees and the seizure of the non-payor's property by writ of execution.
may hide from the custodial parent in order to avoid their child support obligation. They may even go so far as to move out of state to avoid their responsibilities.
In order to fix this problem, the federal government has created the Parent Locator Service (The law also requires the states to establish a Parent Locator Services). The law allows you to use the resources of the federal government (including the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service) to locate a nonpaying parent's employer. Once found, the custodial parent or the state can enforce the child support order and collect unpaid support recovering support from tax refunds. The law also permits the IRS to pay past due child support from tax refunds that the nonpaying parent is due from the government.
For more information on the Parent Locator Service, contact the local office of the Department of Health and Human Services.The employer will deduct child support like any other deduction from the paying parent's paycheck and send the money directly to the custodial parent. If the nonpaying parent holds a steady job, this is a very valuable tool.
A child support order can be enforced just like other court judgments. The court can seize assets of the nonpaying parent such as real property, bank accounts, stock, a paid-off car or other property. If you want to try this method of enforcing child support, it is a good idea to find an experienced attorney.
If you choose to go forward on your own, you should be aware that the Pennsylvania Court Rules provide a wide variety of means to execute on judgments.
If you are not successful obtaining the property using the methods described above, you have other choices. For example, you can garnish the property of the judgment debtor. Generally a writ of garnishment is used when a third party is holding property of the judgment debtor (no-paying parent). The rule states when the writ may be filed and what information shall be included in the writ.In addition to the methods of securing a wage lien offered in the Pennsylvania , the legislature has passed laws to assist recipients of support to collect the funds due them from parents ordered to pay child support.
s/he can be jailed for contempt of court. The civil contempt action is brought by the custodial parent. The court clerk will have the proper forms. After that, the nonpaying parent will have to be notified (served with process) since he or she has the Constitutional right to appear at the hearing and present a defense. If the nonpaying parent is served and does not appear, the trial court will order a bench warrant issued for his or her arrest.
If the court (finds beyond a reasonable doubt) that the parent has willfully failed to pay valid child support order, the court can order the nonpaying parent jailed. (A parent showing that they did not have the ability to pay will not be found in contempt of court, however s/he will continue to owe the money.)
Often, the mere threat of jail is sufficient to pry open the non-paying parent's pocketbook. However, in severe cases, parents will be jailed. Sometimes the jail sentence will end only when the proper payment has been made.