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How is child support enforced?

Pennsylvania has several tools to help assure that child support is fully and timely paid. As part of its child support enforcement powers, a court can impose many penalties that have financial and legal consequences upon a parent who does not comply with a support order.

Courts order employers to subtract support payments from a parent's paycheck. These attachment orders can also govern unemployment compensation, pensions and workers' disability.

Enforcement actions can commence when a parent does not fully pay support. Non-compliance notices are mailed each month to a parent who does not make regular payments or failed to make a payment in 30 days. Delinquent support may also lead to driver license suspension.

Income tax refunds may be taken and used to pay-off delinquent support under specific guidelines. Spousal support may also be collected from these refunds when the court order requires alimony and child support. Pennsylvania's Automated Child Support Enforcement System submits cases each month that are eligible for this IRS intercept.

A parent in arrears may also be reported to a credit bureau. The credit bureau may issue information that may negatively impact a delinquent parent's credit rating and ability to obtain credit, or engage in business transactions.

Past due support constitutes a lien. A lien can block the parent's ability to buy, sell or refinance real estate. Title companies, banks and mortgage company usually contact family courts to determine whether a person engaged in a real estate transaction owes any child support.

Any delinquent support becomes a legal judgment within 30 days, which may be enforced in Pennsylvania and other states. Judgments become liens against property and can block real estate transactions until the judgment, the unpaid support, is fully paid. Title companies involved in real estate receive certification of support balances that are owed.

An experienced lawyer can assist parents who seeks these legal remedies. An attorney can also help assure that a child support agreement and order is fair, equitable and adequate for everyday expenses and health care.

Source: Montcopa.org, "Enforcement of support orders," accessed on Nov. 4, 2016

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