HOW AND WHEN TO FILE FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN BUCKS COUNTY
If you have a child and are no longer with the other parent or were never with the other parent, or even if you are anticipating leaving the other parent, and you have the child the majority of the time, you must file for child support if you want a court order that is enforceable and collectible through the courts. You can file in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, if you and the child live in Bucks County or if the other parent lives or works in Bucks County. If you know you are going to be living separately, you will want to file about four weeks before you move out and be sure to include the date and location of where you will be moving so that your petition is not returned. It takes approximately six to eight weeks from the date you file for child support before you will have your first court appearance which will be in the form of a conference with a domestic relations officer. During those six to eight weeks if you are not working you will need to have saved or borrowed money in order to meet your expenses as the other parent may decide not to give you anything until the court orders them to pay.
If the other parent is not married to you and parental status was never established, they will likely schedule you on a day that they do paternity testing. If you are an unmarried man, even if you think you are the father, it is always a good idea to ask for the paternity test in a support matter before you obligate yourself for at least 18 years of child support.
THE CHILD SUPPORT PROCESS
At your support conference, the domestic relations officer will enter an order for child support. If the parents do not agree on the number, the court will enter an interim order and then schedule you before a judge. Child support is wage attached and will come directly out of the other parent’s pay. If they are self-employed, they will be responsible for sending the money to Harrisburg through the central office that handles the collection of all support orders in Pennsylvania. Failure to pay child support in Pennsylvania can lead to incarceration.
It is easy to file for child support in Pennsylvania. Most counties such as Buck County, have forms that you can fill out yourself to file. Unlike divorce, there is no filing fee to file for child support. You simply fill out the forms with as much information as you have available to you and then file them. The other parent’s obligation for support will generally begin the day you file the papers with the court. You can obtain the forms at the law library in Doylestown or by contacting the support office. If you are hiring an attorney to represent you in support you can simply have the attorney file the paperwork for you. Filings should be done at Support Intake at 100 N. Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901 in the new Bucks County Justice Center.