There are a number of remedies available to promote payment of support obligations within Pennsylvania. First, Pennsylvania does wage garnishment where possible to ensure payments are collected in full on a consistent basis. If a payor does fall behind, the court will call the party in for contempt proceedings. A payor who is able to catch up at the time of the contempt proceeding will usually avoid any further sanctions. Alternatively, if the court accepts a repayment plan offered by the payor there may not be any further enforcement remedies pursued. If a payor cannot make payment in full or offer a satisfactory plan for catching up on payments, they will have to go before a Judge to discuss their failure to keep up with their support obligations.
There are many options available to ensure support payments are being made. Income withholding is standard with most support orders. This will allow the support payments to be deducted directly from the payor's income. Domestic Relations will send an income withholding order to the employer for implementation. If there is upwards of a fifteen (15) day delay in receiving payment, contempt proceedings can be initiated by Domestic Relations or the party receiving support. Overdue support, or arrears, will begin to accumulate with each late or missed payment. The court can unilaterally increase the monthly support award to account for the growing arrears in an attempt to help bring the account current again.
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) clarified an uniform approach to dealing with child custody matters nationwide. Since its inception in 1997, 49 states as well as the District of Columbia have adopted the Act. One of the goals achieved through the UCCJEA is clear guidance on who should exercise jurisdiction over a custody matter. The preferred method for establishing jurisdiction is based on the home state of the child. The homes state is defined as the state where the child had been living for at least six (6) months prior to the custody action or since birth if the child is less than six months old. If jurisdiction is not clear based on an analysis of the home state, the courts should then look to see where there are significant connections and substantial evidence relevant to the custody action. Significant connections is more than just mere presence in any state.
There are numerous consequences that stem from the failure to pay child support. One possibility is that you will be denied a U.S. passport. If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. If you discover your eligibility is affected due to past due child support you must first contact the Domestic Relations section that handles your case to clear the balance. After having resolved any outstanding balance, it generally takes an additional 2-3 weeks before your application for a passport will be able to be processed.