August is National Child Support Awareness Month. August has been dedicated to child support awareness since 1995 when President Clinton began it as part of his welfare reform agenda. The purpose of raising awareness is to improve the collection of child support payments. The preferred method of collection is wage garnishment. There is also information on sanctions for failure to pay support which may include suspension of driver’s licenses and passports for parents with child support arrears. All 50 states participate in child support awareness month.
Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines are intended to ensure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly and are based on the combined net monthly income of both parties as well as the number of children involved. Pennsylvania does use wage garnishment as a means of securing consistent payment. The family court has the authority to issue a bench warrant to have a party who is not making support payments taken into custody. Additionally, the court can order additional incarceration at a subsequent support hearing as a means of reiterating the importance of regular support payments and demonstrating the severity of the punishment available for failure to comply. The court can also seize any lump sum payments due to the payor including unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, insurance settlements, Social Security retirement or disability benefits, and other public or private retirement funds.