Simultaneous Support Proceedings And Pennsylvania’S Approach

What happens if there are two simultaneous support proceedings in two different states? This issue has arisen with enough frequency that the Pennsylvania legislature has address it in the PA Statutes related to Domestic Relations matters. Our blog post today discusses the Pennsylvania law approach to dealing with simultaneous support proceedings, how jurisdiction is determined, and what PA law does to handle this issue.

A person files for support in Pennsylvania and another state – now what? 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 7203-7206 address this exact issue. The answer is: it depends on which is filed first.

If the petition or initiation of support proceedings is done in another state first, PA may have jurisdiction over a support matter filed after the matter in the other state if the following are true:

1) The petition or other pleading in filed in PA is filed before the expiration of the time allowed in the other State for filing a responsive pleading that challenges the exercise of jurisdiction by the other State.

2) The party who is contesting jurisdiction timely files a challenge to the exercise of jurisdiction in the other State.

3) If relevant, Pennsylvania is the home state of this child.

However, if the party initiates a support action in PA first, and then files in another State, PA cannot exercise jurisdiction if the pleading in the other State is filed before the expiration of time allowed in PA for filing a responsive pleading challenging PA jurisdiction. Also, PA cannot exercise jurisdiction in this situation if the contesting party timely challenges jurisdiction in Pennsylvania, or if the other State (not Pennsylvania) is the home state of the child.

Jurisdiction for Support Matters:

Pennsylvania statutes define the parameters for jurisdiction over support matters in this State. A court within Pennsylvania issuing a support order has continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over a child support order as long as PA remains the residence of the obligor (the paying party), the individual obligee, or the child for whose benefit the support order is issued. Pennsylvania does not retain continuing, exclusive jurisdiction when an Interim Support Order is entered.

Also, PA retains continuing, exclusive jurisdiction until all the parties who are individuals have filed written consent with the court in PA for a court in another state to modify the order and assume jurisdiction in that state.

In the event that a court of another state modifies a child support order, a court in PA loses its jurisdiction with respect to enforcing the Order, except a PA court may do the following:

1) Enforce the Order that was modified as to amounts accruing BEFORE the modification occurred;

2) Enforce non-modifiable aspects of that Order;

3) Provide other appropriate relief for violations of that Order which occurred before the effective date of the modification.

Additionally, if a State with child support laws similar to Pennsylvania issues a support order, Pennsylvania must give that Order full faith and credit – meaning it must recognize the validity of this Order.

Questions about Support in Pennsylvania? Contact our attorneys today!

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