The Pennsylvania child support system is put in place to help single parents receive the financial support they need to raise their children. Child support payments are made by the parent who is not primarily responsible for raising the children, oftentimes referred to as the noncustodial parent. Child support services in Pennsylvania include establishing who the father is (if he is the noncustodial parent) and determining the amount of support the noncustodial parent must pay each month. A division called the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement, a branch of the state Department of Human Services, also ensures that the absent parent starts making payments if he or she falls behind or refuses to pay altogether. Child support lawyers can help parents who need assistance starting the PA child support process. Find a child support attorney here before starting the legal process. Below, find information on hiring a child support lawyer, receiving support payments and seeking help when payments are not received.
What a Pennsylvania Child Support Lawyer Can Do for You
Establishing child support payments is a legal process that requires going to court or to an official conference in Pennsylvania. Hiring a child support attorney can help you get through the process and understand all the steps you must take to request payments. Any time you go to court, it is wise to have an attorney present to represent you and consult you on your options. Even if you do not foresee challenges in your child support case, an attorney will help your case proceed as smoothly and quickly as possible. Child support lawyers’ fees in PA vary based on each lawyer’s individual rate and how long your court process takes. Find qualified child support attorneys in Pennsylvania here before you go to court.
How Pennsylvania Child Support Services are Established
PA child support may be required after you get divorced or separated, or when your partner is otherwise absent from your life. Although child support may be required, the process for establishing it does not happen automatically. When the child support services division in Pennsylvania receives a new case to consider, the division will first establish who the father is, if the child is born out of wedlock. The child support service will also locate the noncustodial parent if he or she cannot be found. Next, both you and the other parent will need to provide information about your income and information about your children’s needs to determine what the payment amount will be. If this meeting occurs in a court setting, then it is especially important to have a child support lawyer present to help you through the process.
After a child support agreement is made in a Pennsylvania court or in a conference setting, you will begin receiving payments. PA child support payments typically continue until your children have reached 18 years of age or graduated high school, whichever comes first. Child support payments may be changed over time if your needs change or the noncustodial parent’s ability to make payments changes.
What is child support in Pennsylvania used for?
You may wonder, “What does child support cover in Pennsylvania?” during the child support court process. Services for child support are intended to help you pay for any costs associated with raising and caring for your children. Contrary to popular belief, what child support covers is fairly broad and open-ended. You do not need to set aside your child support funds to only cover your children’s basic necessities, such as food and housing. Your support funds can be used for your children’s education, entertainment, after school activities, medical needs and other similar costs. In general, child support payments must simply be used in a way that benefits your children’s well-being.
Child Support Enforcement in Pennsylvania
Enforcing child support is not your responsibility in Pennsylvania. If a parent falls behind in child support payments, then the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement will step in to ensure that payments are made. You may also consult a child support attorney if you are not receiving your child support payments on time or at all. Child support attorneys can provide all the information you need to know about your rights and responsibilities as a custodial parent.
There are many methods for enforcing child support payments in Pennsylvania. Your lawyer or the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement will make sure that these steps are taken against the noncustodial parent. Consequences for not paying child support in PA may include:
- Automatic collection of bank account funds, lottery winnings, tax refunds or worker’s compensation.
- Jail time or being held in civil contempt.
- Liens against property and other assets.
- A drivers license suspension.
- Defaulted payments being reported to credit bureaus, which impacts credit scores.
These child support penalties only affect the noncustodial parent in Pennsylvania and are intended to prevent delinquent payments.