In Pennsylvania, court ordered spousal support, alimony pendente lite, or child support is enforced through specific mechanisms within the court system in order to ensure that the payor is meeting his/her obligation to provide their child(ren) or former spouse with the support they need. These enforcement mechanisms are defined by statute in PA and there are numerous different ways this can be done so as to make sure that the Court Order is being followed.
Income Attachment: Wage attachment, or having the payor's work wages attached directly to the support obligation, is mandatory in PA unless the payor is not delinquent AND the payee waives the wage attachment. Specifically, the court is permitted to garnish no more than 50% of the net wages of the paying party. Other types of accounts may be used for garnishment purposes to fulfill a support obligation. For example, an obligor's pension and profit sharing plan can be subject to garnishment for support purposes.
Income Tax Refund Intercept: Upon receipt of information indicating an individual's failure to pay spousal support, alimony pendente lite, or child support, the Secretary of the Treasury may take all necessary steps to retain the refunds of federal income tax paid by an individual who owes past due child support or spousal support/APL. This information can also be forwarded to the state agency.
Money Judgments: If a judgment is entered where a defendant fails to comply with the support order in place, the judgment can be enforced via execution on real or personal property, transferring the judgment to another county or jurisdiction, or enforced through other means as defined by statute.
Liens against Property: A public agency that incurs expenses connected with the support maintenance, assistance or burial of a spouse or unemancipated minor children has a cause of action against any real or personal property of the person who had the duty to support. However, the home and furnishings of the obligor CANNOT be subject to execution during the lifetime of the person's surviving spouse or dependent children.
Further action(s) that can be taken to enforce support obligations include:
- Credit Bureau Reporting;
- Suspension of Licenses, including professional licenses, driver's license, and recreational licenses;
- Payment of Interest and Fines;
- Civil Contempt Action
For more information about enforcing support orders, contact our Western PA support attorneys at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C. We are familiar with all of the mechanisms to enforce support orders and can assist you in getting the support you deserve!