Enforcement of Support

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.

If a party fails to appear for contempt proceedings the court has the authority to issue a bench warrant to have that party taken into custody. Additionally, the court can order additional incarceration at subsequent support hearings as a means of reiterating the importance of regular support payments and demonstrating the severity of the punishment available for failure to comply. Other enforcement remedies include seizure of payments from a government agency such as unemployment compensation, social security, retirement or disability payments, seizure of works’ compensation benefits and seizure of retirement funds in pay status. The court may also place a lien on real property, seize funds from the payor’s bank, report overdue support to credit agencies and suspend licenses including occupational, driver’s and recreational.

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