Enforcement of Support
Failing to pay court-ordered support is a very serious matter. If payments are not received on a regular basis, the Domestic Relations office and the Court are required by law to take the appropriate enforcement actions.
The best way to ensure that payment is received on a regular basis is to have the non-custodial parent’s wages attached. The Court is required by law to issue a wage-attachment Order to an employer whenever possible. It then becomes the employer’s responsibility to deduct the correct amount from the employee’s paycheck and submit those monies in accordance with the terms of the Order.
If the parent is not considered to be an employee of a company, then he or she is responsible for sending payments on their own. They will receive monthly or weekly billing coupons in the mail, and they will be required to pay by the due date to avoid any further action by the Court. Falling even one month behind can have serious consequences.
Numerous Federal and State laws have been passed in recent years to address the non-payment of support. This office uses an “automated child-support enforcement system,” (PACSES), which allows each case to be monitored very closely and will automatically begin certain enforcement actions as required by law:
- Credit Bureau Reporting: Any delinquent balance that exceeds two month’s worth of support will be reported to all of the major credit bureaus, and this will affect a person’s ability to obtain loans and credit.
- Drivers License Suspension: The Court can suspend a person’s drivers License for failing to pay support. The license will not be reinstated until the parent has reached an agreement with the Court to pay the support. In addition, PennDOT will charge a restoration fee of at least $25.00.
- Recreational License Suspension: The Court may suspend a person’s right to go hunting, fishing and boating in the state of PA.
- Professional License Suspension: If someone is licensed by the state to perform certain professions or occupations, that license may be suspended.
- Attachment of Assets Held by Financial Institutions: The Court may “freeze and Seize” any amount of overdue support held in any bank or credit union account.
- Federal and State Tax Refund Intercept: Funds may be automatically withheld from any tax refund due.
- Lottery Winnings Intercept: Any overdue support will be automatically deducted from any winnings that exceed $2,500.00 through the PA. State Lottery.
- Passport Denial: A person may not receive or renew a passport if overdue support is owed.
- Liens against Real Property: An automatic lien will be placed on any real property owned in the State of PA. A non-custodial parent will not be able to buy or sell any real property without first paying any overdue support.
- Judgment by Operation of Law: The Court may enter a Judgment as provided by law upon any real or personal property owned by anyone owing overdue support. In some cases, the court can then execute upon this Judgment, resulting in a Sheriff’s sale of the property, for the amount of overdue support.
- Publication of Delinquent Support Obligors: The name of anyone owing overdue support can be published in newspapers of general or special circulation in the county.
In addition to or instead of using any of the above-listed enforcement remedies, the Domestic Relations Office may also file a Contempt Petition against any non-custodial parent that appears to be in violation of the current order. Upon the filing of a petition, a Contempt hearing will be scheduled with the Court.
If the Court finds the parent to be in willful violation of the support order, the parent can be fined, placed on probation and/or committed to the Tioga County Prison for a period of up to six months.