INTRODUCTION TO DOMESTIC RELATIONS by gregoria

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									                    TABLE OF CONTENTS                                      INTRODUCTION TO DOMESTIC
                                                                                  RELATIONS
INTRODUCTION ………………………………….………….                         2
    Address ……………………………….…..……..…..…                     2
                                                                  The York County Domestic Relations Section (DRS) is a branch of
    Phone Numbers …………………………………..……                      3
                                                                  the York County Court of Common Pleas and is part of the Family
SUPPORT ……………………………….……………….…...                         3
                                                                  Court system.
    What is Support? ………………………………….…..                   3
    Types of Support …………………….…………….….                   4
                                                                  Our mission is to provide family support services to the
    Who may request Support? …….……………….……                5
                                                                  community, including:
    How to apply for Support …….………………….……               5
                                                                  1) The location of absent parents
    Locating an absent parent …….…………..…….……             7
                                                                  2) The establishment of paternity for children born out of wedlock
    Attorney Representation ………………….…………..               8
                                                                  3) The establishment of financial/medical support obligations
CONFERENCE AND HEARING ……………..……………..                    9
                                                                  4) The enforcement of support obligations.
    Things to bring to the Conference ……….…………..         9
    An overview of the Conference ……….…………..…            10
                                                                  Domestic Relations does NOT deal with custody or divorce matters. A
    Establishing Paternity ……………………..………….               11
                                                                  private attorney should be consulted in matters involving custody and
    Calculation of the guideline amount ……….…….....      12
                                                                  divorce, as Domestic Relations cannot provide legal advice.
    If only one party appears …………………..………...            14
    If you do not agree with the recommended order …     15
                                                                  This manual has been designed to guide you through the support
PAYMENTS …………………………………………………..                           16
                                                                  process and give you an idea of what to expect at the various stages.
    Information for defendants ………………….……….              16
                                                                  Our staff recognizes the anxiety and stress this process creates for
    Information for plaintiffs ………………………………              17
                                                                  some clients. We are here to ensure that clients understand the
ENFORCEMENT OF SUPPORT ORDER ………………..                    18
                                                                  support system and answer any questions along the way. This
    Income attachment. ………………………………….                    18
                                                                  handbook may be used for reference for some common questions.
    Contempt Procedures ……………………….……….                   19
    Programs available ………………………….………..                  19
                                                                  Recommended orders for support are based on the Pennsylvania
    Other remedies available …………………………….                20
                                                                  state guidelines for support. Copies of these guidelines are available
MODIFYING A SUPPORT ORDER ……………….……….                    21
                                                                  upon request.
SUSPENDING OR REINSTATING AN ORDER ……….…                 22
RECEPTIONIST / CLIENT SERVICES UNIT……………...              23
WHERE IS MY CASE NOW?…………………………..……                      24       Contacting Domestic Relations
GLOSSARY OF TERMS …………………………..…….….                      25
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS …………………………..…….…                        28       Office hours: Monday - Friday 7:30 AM – 5:00 PM

                                                                  Mailing address:
                                                                          Domestic Relations Section
                                                                          PO Box 1502
                                                                          York PA 17405-1502




 2002 York County Domestic Relations – Second Edition
                                                              1                                                                       2
The York County Domestic Relations Office is located at 100 West         Types of support
Market Street on the first floor of the York County Government
Center, at the corner of Market and Beaver Streets. There are several    Monetary Support is an ordered amount of support that is to be paid
parking garages in the downtown area and meter parking is available      on a regular basis.
on the streets.
                                                                         Health Care Coverage may be ordered to provide insurance
Phone numbers: (717) 771-9605 or 1-800-207-7111                          coverage for the dependents, provided it is available at a reasonable
                                                                         cost.
The numbers above may be used to make an appointment to see an
enforcement officer, or to ask general questions about your case.        Medical Reimbursement will be a provision of the order. A medical
Persons with disabilities should contact Domestic Relations, prior to    split will be included to cover medical expenses not covered by
coming into the office, to arrange accommodations. Please be aware       insurance, including medical, dental, vision, and orthodontia. The
that enforcement officers do not accept phone calls, so you may          plaintiff is responsible for paying the first $250.00 of unreimbursed
need to write, FAX, or make an appointment to have your                  medical expenses per child and/or spouse per calendar year before
question answered.                                                       the defendant is responsible for his/her portion of said expenses.
                                                                         Unless specifically directed in the order, medical expenses do not
FAX number: (717) 771-9817                                               include cosmetic, chiropractic, psychiatric, or psychological expenses.

                                                                         Child Care will be included in the monetary order for the defendant’s
Be sure to include your PASCES or DRO case number on any
                                                                         portion of said costs, less applicable tax credits.
correspondence that you mail or FAX to the office, or have said
numbers available when phoning the office. This enables Domestic         Additional expenses such as private school tuition, camp, etc. may
Relations to identify your case and resolve your problems quickly.       be added to the order of support. Expenses that are determined to be
                                                                         reasonable will be divided according to the parties’ percentages of the
If the office is closed due to an emergency or inclement weather, York   combined net monthly income. Depending on the frequency of the
County Government closings will be included in announcements             expense, it may be added to the ordered amount of support or the
made on local radio stations, or you may check online at                 defendant may be assessed a total amount as arrears and directed to
www.wgal.com. If you are unable to attend a proceeding due to an         pay that amount in regular payments.
emergency, you must contact the office as soon as possible.
                                                                         Contribution to mortgage payment may be a part of the monetary
Additional information concerning Pennsylvania State Collection &        order of support, when the plaintiff continues to reside in the home.
Disbursement Unit may be found online at www.pa-childsupport.com.        When payment on a jointly owned home exceeds the plaintiff’s ability
Specific information for York County Domestic Relations can be found     to pay, additional support may be ordered as calculated by the
online at www.york-county.org/departments/courts/dom_rel.htm.            formula outlined in the guidelines.

                                                                         Arrearages may be assessed against the defendant. Support is due
                           SUPPORT                                       and payable once the plaintiff has formally requested support (the
                                                                         filing of a complaint). If the defendant has not paid, there are arrears.
What is support?                                                         The defendant will be ordered to pay an amount on arrears in addition
                                                                         to the amount payable for current support.
Support is money or contributions made to help provide for the basic
needs of dependents that a person has a legal obligation to support.     Fees and Costs may become part of the order. A Judge in a court
Domestic Relations has the authority to calculate and enter support      proceeding may order fees associated with filing an action or attorney
orders for child support, spousal support and alimony pendente lite.     fees. These types of expenses are not ordered as a part of the initial
These calculations are based upon the Pennsylvania state guidelines      support order entered by a Conference Officer and are not typically
for support set by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.                       handled by this DRS.
                                                                    3                                                                           4
Who may request support?                                                     Items needed to file for support
The following persons would be entitled to file for support:                 1.   Full names and addresses for all parties.
1) A parent, guardian or person who has majority physical custody of         2.   Dates of birth for all parties
   a minor child or who is the principal caretaker of the child,             3.   Birth certificate(s) for the child/ren
   regardless of whether a court order has been issued granting that         4.   Social Security Numbers/Cards for all parties.
   person custody.                                                           4.   Employers and their addresses for both parties, if applicable.
2) A parent, guardian or public or private agency on behalf of an            5.   Last three pay stubs for the person filing, if applicable.
   unemancipated child over age 18.                                          6.   Court orders in any other state, if applicable.
3) A married person who is separated from one’s spouse.                      7.   Proof and cost of insurance coverage, if available.
4) A public or private agency who has an interest in the care,
   maintenance or assistance of a person to whom a duty of support           Questions asked before filing for support
   is owing.
5) An unemancipated child over age 18, who is not living with his/her        1. Have you filed against this person before?
   parents.                                                                  2. Where does the absent parent live?
                                                                             3. Where was/were the child/ren conceived and/or born?
How to apply for support                                                     4. What is the place of marriage and/or divorce (if applicable)?
                                                                             5. Are there established support orders in any other states?
To file for support walk-in appointments are accepted on a first come
first serve basis. Please call the office to find out the hours that walk-   Different types of petitions
in appointments are accepted. It will take about an hour to gather the
necessary information and complete the paperwork to file the                 The intake specialist will assist you in deciding which type of petition
complaint. There is a filing fee of $5.00 for local actions that can be      you are able to file for support and which may benefit your case most.
paid by cash or check. An attorney may file an action without the
need for an intake appointment.                                              1. Local - All parties are required to appear in the York County
                                                                                Domestic Relations Office. An Intake Specialist will determine if
The intake specialist will enter all of your information into the               the circumstances of your case permit a local filing.
PACSES computer system and schedule a Conference to establish
an order of support for a local support action. The Joint Support            2. IFSA - The plaintiff files to the county within Pennsylvania where
Conference will be scheduled four to six weeks from your filing date to         the defendant resides. All information from the plaintiff needed for
allow time for service of the notice on the defendant of the action.            the conference is sent with the petition. The other county would be
                                                                                responsible to hold the conference, establish an order of support,
                                                                                collect payments, and begin other enforcement remedies, if
                                                                                necessary. The other county would deal directly with the plaintiff.
                                                                                An IFSA Petition is filed upon the request of the plaintiff.

                                                                             3. UIFSA - A petition is filed to another state only if Pennsylvania
                                                                                cannot secure jurisdiction through legal application. UIFSAs may
                                                                                be filed for several different reasons: redirect payments, establish
                                                                                paternity, establish or modify support, and register another state’s
                                                                                order for enforcement and/or modification.



                                                                        5                                                                          6
Locating an absent parent                                                   Attorney representation
A complaint for support may be accepted even if the current address         The Domestic Relations Section has two Staff Attorneys available to
of the defendant is not known. Domestic Relations has access to a           represent a plaintiff for conferences and hearings at no cost. The
number of sources to attempt to locate the absent parent, including         Staff Attorneys can only represent plaintiffs in proceedings involving
post office checks, federal tax information, driver’s license, credit       child support. In matters involving only spousal support a plaintiff
bureau, public assistance, location through other state child support       must obtain private counsel.
agencies, and employment information.
                                                                            Once the plaintiff has a scheduled conference or hearing, an
It is important that Domestic Relations has the full name, date of birth,   application for attorney representation must be completed and
and social security number of the absent parent for locate services to      returned to Domestic Relations. Applications can be obtained at the
be most effective. Some information that the plaintiff should report to     receptionist’s desk and should be returned at least two weeks prior to
Domestic Relations would be:                                                a scheduled conference or hearing.
1) Any current or previous employers of the absent parent.
2) Names, addresses and/or phone numbers of family members of               The plaintiff will be notified within 24 to 48 hours of our receipt of
     the absent parent in the area.                                         application by letter if a staff attorney is available to represent them at
3) Last known address of the absent parent.                                 the requested event. A pre-meeting may be scheduled between the
4) If the defendant receives any benefits, such as Social Security,         plaintiff and the Staff Attorney prior to the conference or hearing. The
     Department of Public Welfare, Veterans benefits, etc                   plaintiff is expected to mail in his/her pay stubs, tax forms, and any
5) If the defendant has been incarcerated.                                  other pertinent information regarding the hearing as soon as possible
                                                                            for the Attorney to review before the pre-meeting.
Any new information that the plaintiff receives that would help in
locating the defendant should be reported to Domestic Relations             A new application must be filed for Attorney representation for each
immediately, in writing.                                                    newly scheduled conference or hearing. Staff Attorneys are
                                                                            automatically present for Contempt Hearings.
Once a current address has been verified for the defendant, the next
step can be taken to establish an order for support. Depending on the       The plaintiff can also obtain private counsel. Staff Attorneys are only
circumstances of the case, retroactivity of the support order may only      available to the plaintiff. Either party can contact the following
go back to the date the defendant was actually served with notice of        organizations regarding legal counsel:
the proceedings.
                                                                            Central PA Legal Services         Lawyer Referral Service
The Domestic Relations Section is mandated to perform location              256 East Market Street            York County Bar Association
efforts for a minimum of three years on a defendant whose                   York PA 17401                     137 East Market Street
whereabouts are unknown, if the plaintiff supplies information to           (717) 848-3605                    York PA 17401
identify the defendant, and for one year if no such information is                                            (717) 854-8755
provided. Federal Child Support Regulations do permit closure of a
case after a certain time period if location efforts have not been
successful.




                                                                       7                                                                             8
           CONFERENCE AND HEARING                                          An overview of the conference

Once a local complaint is filed, both parties will receive notice of the   The Conference Officer will begin by verifying the information already
date and time to appear for conference. The parties should plan to         received on both parties, such as address, employer, etc. Both
arrive early to ensure that they have found parking and are checked        parties will be given a chance to present all their information to the
in with the receptionist prior to their scheduled time. Individuals who    Conference Officer and may respond to any information submitted by
are not a part of the action, with the exception of attorneys, are not     the other party.
allowed to attend the conference and will need to remain in the
waiting area. Conferences are generally scheduled for an hour and          The Conference Officer will calculate the net monthly incomes of the
depending on the circumstances, the conference may be held even if         parties, or earning capacities, and calculate the guideline amount for
only one person appears.                                                   support. If the parties do not agree on an amount for support, a
                                                                           recommended order will typically be entered in accordance with the
Things to bring to the conference                                          guidelines. This order is entered with the right for both parties to file
                                                                           an appeal within ten days of receipt of or mailing of the order. If
                                                                           neither party appeals the order within the allowed time, this order
Both parties are requested to bring copies of their pay stubs for the
                                                                           shall become final.
last six months and a copy of their most recent federal income tax
return and W2s. If a party is self-employed, he/she should bring any
                                                                           In cases where the plaintiff receives cash assistance from the
information necessary to get an idea of his/her current earnings, such
                                                                           Department of Public Welfare, no agreements are accepted. The
as ledgers from the business or a year to date income statement.
                                                                           guideline amount must be entered in these cases.
Any extraordinary expenses for the child and/or spouse must be
                                                                           The parties will be read the order, if time permits, and given a copy.
verified at the conference. The most common expenses would
                                                                           This order will specify the amount to be paid on the current order of
include childcare expenses, health insurance premiums, private
                                                                           support and the amount to be paid on back support (arrears).
tuition, summer camp, and ongoing medical expenses (such as
                                                                           Information on how payments are to be made will be given to both
braces, regular medication, or therapy). Without verification of these
                                                                           parties.
costs, they may not be considered in establishing the support order.
                                                                           The parties will also be given a copy of Domestic Relations’ policies
The income and expense statement sent with the conference notice
                                                                           and procedures, which provide valuable information concerning the
should be filled out to the best of your ability. While support is not
                                                                           progression of the case. Be sure to have any questions or concerns
based on these statements, the items in bold face may be considered
                                                                           addressed at the conference.
in calculating the support amount. Insurance cards should be brought
to the conference, so that copies can be made to complete the
information for the file. Copies of insurance cards, booklets, and any
other information that is needed to use the insurance should be given
to the other party before conference, or available at the time of
conference.




                                                                      9                                                                          10
Establishing paternity                                                        Calculation of the guideline amount
One of the functions of the Domestic Relations Section is to establish        Support is based on the net monthly incomes of the mother and
paternity for a child or children born outside of marriage.                   father (or husband and wife in spousal support cases). All applicable
                                                                              income taxes, any union dues, and mandatory retirement reduce the
An alleged father can acknowledge or deny paternity prior to the              gross annual income or earning capacity to arrive at a net monthly
scheduled conference or during the conference. A denial may be                income. If you file a joint tax return with your current spouse,
accepted if he has not already signed a paternity affidavit                   information on their income should be available for purposes of
(acknowledgment of paternity) more than sixty days prior to his               calculating your federal tax only.
denial. Genetic blood testing is generally not allowed for children born
during the marriage of the parties.                                           Gross annual incomes are calculated by the Conference Officer
                                                                              based on the past six months worth of income. Normally an average
If a conference was scheduled and the alleged father denies paternity         of the year to date income is projected to arrive at an annual gross
prior to the conference, the conference is canceled and a genetic             and compared to the prior year’s income. If a person has seasonal or
blood test is scheduled. If the alleged father denies paternity during        fluctuating income, such as construction workers, gross income may
the conference, the conference will immediately cease and an order            be based on an average of one or more year’s income.
for genetic blood testing will be entered to resolve the issue of
paternity.                                                                    An earning capacity is established for any party that is unemployed
                                                                              or underemployed. Said capacity is based on a number of factors,
The parties will be scheduled to have their blood drawn in a location         including age, health, education, work experience, and child care
closest to where they live. The testing will take approximately fifteen       responsibilities.
minutes and is similar to giving a blood sample. The parties have the
right to sign a “Stipulation” which would stipulate the defendant to be       Extraordinary expenses, such as insurance premiums, private
the biological father of the child if the results indicate a probability of   school tuition, and summer camp expenses will be split according to
99% or higher. If the parties do not sign the stipulation, they reserve       the parties’ percentages of their combined net monthly income if said
the right to contest the validity of the test results, by filing a rule to    expenses are deemed reasonable and necessary.
show cause with the office within twenty days of the mailing date of
the test results. If it is determined that there is some validity in said     Regular and ongoing medical expenses may be included in the
filing, then a paternity trial, without a jury, shall be scheduled.           ordered amount of support. Under the current guidelines, the plaintiff
                                                                              is responsible for the first $250.00 per child and/or spouse per year of
Once the samples have been drawn it will take approximately four to           any unreimbursed medical expenses. Said $250.00 would be
six weeks until the results are received. If the defendant is not             subtracted from the annual medical expense before being divided
excluded by the testing, and a stipulation was signed, a conference           according to the parties’ medical split.
will automatically be scheduled to establish an order for support,
including setting up an account for the cot of genetic testing. If the        Child Care expenses are subject to a tax reduction of 25% before
father is excluded as the biological father, the proceedings shall be         being divided between the parties according to their percentage of the
dismissed and the plaintiff will be responsible for the re-payment of         combined net monthly income. Said tax credit is subject to certain
the cost of genetic testing.                                                  limitations, as outlined in the guidelines. The total expense for the
                                                                              year will be averaged for a monthly amount in cases where childcare
The cost of genetic testing is $60.00 per person. The Genetic Test            costs are different in the summer and school months.
Fee established for one child will generally be $180.00, $60.00 each
for mother, father, and one child. Each additional child being tested
will increase the Fee by $60.00 per child.


                                                                        11                                                                         12
Multiple families for a defendant may warrant a deviation from the        If only one party appears
guideline amount for support. The defendant’s obligation to other
minor children will be considered if there is a legal obligation to       For the initial complaint for support:
support the children. A legal obligation would be a biological child or   If a plaintiff fails to appear for a scheduled conference without notice
one that has been legally adopted.                                        PRIOR to the time of conference, his/her complaint shall be
                                                                          dismissed. One exception to this rule is if a plaintiff is receiving cash
Visitation or custody arrangements may warrant a deviation from           assistance from the Department of Public Welfare (DPW). In these
the guideline amount of support. If the non-custodial parent has the      cases, a conference will be held and an order entered without the
child/ren in his/her care for a period of time equal to or greater than   plaintiff. The plaintiff may be reported to DPW for failure to cooperate
148 overnights a year, or 40% of the time, a deviation is warranted.      and the plaintiff’s cash grant may be reduced or stopped until he/she
Should the parties have 50/50 joint custody, the ordered amount may       cooperates with DRS. Another exception to this rule is that local
be further reduced to equalize the incomes of the parties.                juvenile agencies (Probation and Children & Youth Services) do not
                                                                          appear at conferences, but an order is entered. There are also
Calculated Allowance Minimum (CAM) is a provision in the                  occasions when incarcerated defendants are excused from
guidelines that ensures a defendant is left with $550.00 per month,       attendance at conferences or hearings.
after all support and arrears payments are deducted, for living
expenses. If a defendant’s income is below the CAM level, a minimal       If a defendant fails to appear, an order may be entered if original
order may be entered.                                                     service is obtained. Original service is basically written proof that the
                                                                          defendant has received notice of the conference and failed to appear.
Mortgage payments may be considered provided the plaintiff is             This verification is most commonly obtained by sending the
residing in the marital residence. Verification of mortgage payments      defendant’s conference notice by certified mail. The defendant MUST
should be available and additional spousal support may be ordered to      sign for his/her certified mail to obtain service. If service has not been
offset said expense.                                                      completed and the defendant does not appear, the conference will
                                                                          have to be rescheduled.
Direct payments may be verified by canceled checks, receipts, or
agreement of the parties at conference. The defendant shall receive       In subsequent filings:
credit against arrears for any payments that were made directly to the    If the moving party (person filing the petition for modification/
plaintiff after the effective date of the support order.                  amendment) fails to appear, without notice prior to the time of
                                                                          conference, his/her petition shall be dismissed.
The effective date of an order of support will generally be the filing
                                                                          If the non-moving party fails to appear, the case may be reviewed and
date of the complaint or petition for amendment of support order,
                                                                          an order entered based on information received from employers, or
absent compelling reason and prompt filings. In cases where the
                                                                          already provided in the case.
location of the defendant was unknown at the time of filing, the
effective date may be the date that the defendant was actually served     Intercounty and Interstate Cases:
notice of the action.                                                     When the plaintiff in a support action has filed an IFSA to York
                                                                          County, he/she may, but need not, appear at the joint support
                                                                          conference. Similar rules apply for certain parties that reside outside
                                                                          of Pennsylvania. If you are unsure about whether you are required to
                                                                          appear at a conference or hearing, please contact our office. Any
                                                                          party not required to appear at a proceeding is expected to supply all
                                                                          required information by mail or FAX. Should the excused party wish to
                                                                          participate in the proceeding by speakerphone, he/she should make
                                                                          this request in writing providing details on where he/she may be
                                                                          reached at the conference/hearing date and time.

                                                                    13                                                                           14
If you do not agree with the recommended order                                                           PAYMENTS
If parties do not come to an agreement for support, the Conference             The collection and disbursement of support payments in the state of
Officer will enter a recommended order in accordance with the                  Pennsylvania is done out of one central office in Harrisburg called PA
Pennsylvania statewide guidelines for support. Parties are given ten           SCDU. Once an order has been established, the parties will be given
days to file an appeal of the order if they do not agree with it. Said         instructions on how support payments will be made. An income
appeal must be submitted in writing before the appeal right has                attachment is required in every support case, unless the arrears are
expired. The right expires ten days from the date that the parties sign        less than thirty days and the plaintiff has agreed not to attach, or good
for a copy of the order or the mailing date of the order. If the tenth day     cause is found not to attach. This income attachment order sets forth
should fall on a weekend or holiday, the appeal right would be                 the amount of support to be withheld and submitted on behalf of the
extended to the following business day. Any appeals received past              defendant.
the ten-day right will be untimely and a hearing will not be scheduled.
To file an appeal, either party or their attorney may write a letter or fill   The following information is for defendants:
out a “Demand for Hearing De Novo” form. By local procedure, there
                                                                               1. It is your responsibility to make payments on your own any time
are certain circumstances where the appeal period is extended to 30
                                                                                  that your support obligation is not being deducted from your
days, including interstate cases, a party in the military, etc.
                                                                                  source of income. Include your member number and social
                                                                                  security number on any check or money order sent to SCDU.
If neither party files an appeal, the order automatically becomes a
                                                                                  Payments should be mailed to:
final order once the appeal right has expired. At this point the order
                                                                                  PA SCDU
can only be changed by agreement of the parties, through
                                                                                  PO Box 69110
modification due to changes in circumstances, or special direction of
                                                                                  Harrisburg PA 17106-9110
the Court.
                                                                               2. To ensure proper credit is given, all payments must be made
Once an appeal is filed, the case shall be scheduled for a Hearing De
                                                                                  through SCDU. Payments made directly to a plaintiff are not
Novo before a Judge. Both parties will receive notice of the date, time
                                                                                  automatically credited against the order of support. The defendant
and location of the hearing. The hearing allows either party to present
                                                                                  will be given credit for any direct payments made to the plaintiff
any issues that they do not feel were handled properly at the
                                                                                  between the filing date of the complaint and the conference date.
conference level. This hearing is normally limited to about fifteen
minutes. If a party believes that they will need more than fifteen
                                                                               3. Defendants who are self-employed or making payments on their
minutes to present their case, a petition for a Special Hearing must be
                                                                                  own should receive coupons in the mail the third weekend of every
submitted to the chamber of the Administrative Family Law Judge.
                                                                                  month to submit payments for the following month.
The order entered at the conference level shall be in effect until the
                                                                               4. You may make payments by Electronic Funds Transfer. The
pending appeal is resolved. A defendant is required to make regular
                                                                                  defendant should have his/her bank contact SCDU to make the
payments and all enforcement remedies may apply to the case, even
                                                                                  proper arrangements (SCDU phone number 1-877-727-7238).
if he/she has filed an appeal of the court order.




                                                                         15                                                                          16
5. Defendants may also make payments using their Visa or                      ENFORCEMENT OF SUPPORT ORDERS
   MasterCard. They must call SCDU at 1-877-727-7238 and speak
   directly to a representative. The defendant must call each time
                                                                          Both parties are responsible to report changes in status (address,
   he/she wants to make a payment using their credit card.
                                                                          employer, custody, income, emancipation, divorce etc.) to the
                                                                          Domestic Relations Section within seven days of the change.
6. An employer may deduct up to 2% of the income attachment to
                                                                          Changes must be reported in writing.
   cover the costs for garnishment.
                                                                          An income attachment shall issue to the defendant’s employer for the
7. There is a $26.00 annual service fee charged by Domestic
                                                                          collection of support. In order for defendant not to be income
   Relations. To avoid arrears, defendants are urged to find out from
                                                                          attached, the following must be present: 1) arrears must be less than
   DRS what month said fee is charged and make a separate
                                                                          30 days and 2) plaintiff must sign an agreement stating that there will
   payment for the $26.00 in that month.
                                                                          be no attachment or the Court finds good cause for no attachment.
8. All changes in employment or address MUST be reported within
                                                                          Should a defendant become noncompliant with the support order
   seven days of said change either in person or in writing.
                                                                          several things may occur. The first step in obtaining compliance from
                                                                          a defendant is to send out questionnaires regarding employment
The following information is for plaintiffs:                              status and/or schedule the defendant for an appointment before an
1. Income attachments will normally take an employer two to four          Enforcement Officer.
   weeks to implement. If the defendant does not make payments
   prior to the attachment starting, it may be two to four weeks from     Every support case has an assigned Enforcement Officer to respond
   the establishment of the order until you receive your first payment.   to client inquiries and move a case through the enforcement process.
                                                                          Officers’ caseloads are assigned alphabetically by the last name of
2. If you do not receive a check, you can access account information      the defendant.
   through an Automated Voice Response (AVR) system:
   1-877-727-7238. If you are missing a check that has been sent,         Defendants who are unemployed are required by the Court Order to
   you should contact SCDU directly at the number above and they          perform a job search and complete a job search form. This means
   will instruct you on what you need to do to have a new check           that they are to contact a designated number of employers per month
   issued. An issued check must be missing fifteen business days          during the times that they are unemployed. The defendants are then
   before any action can be taken.                                        directed to report back to the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) at
                                                                          the end of the designated period if they have not obtained
3. Plaintiffs may arrange for direct deposit from SCDU into a bank        employment. If employment is obtained, same must be reported to
   account. Forms are available at the Domestic Relations Section         DRS within 7 days, in writing or in person.
   and take about four weeks to process. You will not receive any
   notice in the mail of deposits, but you can check the AVR system       In cases of noncompliance, the DRS may file a petition for contempt
   at the number noted above to see when payments were made.              against the defendant. Once a petition for contempt is filed, a Court
                                                                          Order is entered directing the defendant to appear at the Domestic
4. Changes in address must be reported in writing, within seven days      Relations Section for an Expedited Contempt Conference (ECC). The
   of said change. Failure to report said changes may delay your          plaintiff will receive notice of this conference, and while not required
   receipt of support checks.                                             to appear, are urged to attend.




                                                                    17                                                                         18
At the ECC the Enforcement Officer will update the defendant’s               The Domestic Relations office will attempt to intercept a defendant’s
information and question the defendant as to why he/she has not              Federal Tax refund should the defendant’s arrears owed to the
been complying with the court order. Once the Enforcement Officer            plaintiff exceed $500.00 or the arrears owed to the Department of
gathers all the information, the Officer will then make a finding of         Public Welfare exceed $150.00. This request is an automatic
contempt or dismiss the petition based on the information provided.          interface within our PACSES computer system. State Tax refund
                                                                             intercept may also occur on qualified cases throughout the year.
If the defendant is found to be in contempt, the Officer may enter an
Order directing the defendant to appear before a Family Court Judge.         There are numerous Enforcement Remedies that occur automatically
This appearance is known as a Contempt Hearing/Compliance                    within our PACSES system. One such remedy is Credit Bureau
Hearing. Again, the plaintiff does not have to appear for this hearing,      reporting. Any defendant who has arrears in excess of two times their
but is urged to do so. At the time of this hearing, the Judge will collect   monthly support obligation will be reported to the credit bureau. The
information from the defendant once again and will either affirm the         account will be reported as delinquent.
finding of contempt made by the Officer and sentence the defendant
appropriately or will dismiss the proceedings.                               Defendants who have arrears more than three times their monthly
                                                                             support obligation and have no active income attachment may qualify
If the Judge finds the defendant in contempt, a sentence is imposed.         for driver’s license suspension.
That sentence could be any or all of the following: Probation,
Incarceration, or a Fine. The Enforcement Officer monitors any               Some of the other automatic remedies include arrears being filed as a
sentence given to a defendant. Please note that failure for the              judgment or lien and Financial Institution Data Matching. Financial
defendant to appear for either the ECC or the Contempt/Compliance            Institution Data Matching is a remedy that occurs when a defendant’s
Hearing may result in a Bench Warrant being issued for the                   accounts and/or assets are matched with a delinquent child support
defendant’s arrest and return to the Court.                                  case in the PACSES system. These assets are then verified, frozen,
                                                                             and may be seized to satisfy the arrears.
There are two specific programs available to which an Enforcement
Officer may refer a defendant:                                               Either party may schedule an appointment to see their Enforcement
                                                                             Officer if they should have any questions or problems with their case.
1) Father’s Workshop: A free 12-week workshop with evening                   Due to the limited appointments available, we request 24 to 48 hours
   meetings at a designated location in York. These sessions are             notice of any cancellation. A party may also write or FAX their
   geared towards strengthening a defendant’s parenting skills,              inquiries to their Enforcement Officer. Please allow 2-4 weeks for a
   developing healthy relationships, developing support systems,             response to an inquiry by mail.
   anger management, improving communication, etc.

2) Welfare to Work program: Clients can be referred to this
   program if they meet certain requirements. This program will help
   the defendant to acquire the skills and basic education to obtain a
   job and provide a support system and aftercare to help a
   defendant to maintain full-time employment.

Additional information is available upon request on either of the noted
programs. There may be certain eligibility requirements to participate.




                                                                       19                                                                       20
         MODIFYING A SUPPORT ORDER                                                  SUSPENDING OR REINSTATING
If parties agree to modify any aspect of their support order, they may
                                                                                            AN ORDER
submit a written agreement to have it entered as a court order. A
special court order would issue without the need to file a petition or     Parties may suspend an order by agreement as long as the plaintiff is
attend a conference. Any aspect of the prior order not specified in the    not receiving cash assistance from DPW. The plaintiff should file a
submitted agreement would remain the same; such as medical splits          petition to suspend and specify if the arrears are to be collected or
or which party is to provide insurance.                                    canceled. Arrears owed to DPW or DRS cannot be canceled. DRS
                                                                           will not collect arrears owed to a plaintiff in cases where parties have
If there is no agreement, either party may file a “Petition for            reconciled or have reached a private payment arrangement.
Amendment of Support Order” to have the case reviewed. For local
modification, there is a $20.00 filing fee that must be paid at the time   If either party feels that there is a reason to suspend the support
of filing. The party requesting the review must specify the changes        order, a petition to suspend should be filed. Depending on the
that have occurred since the entry of the prior order that has             situation, the petition may be able to be resolved administratively by
prompted his/her request for review. The petition will be reviewed and     verification of some information from the opposite party through the
may be scheduled for a conference. A petition may be dismissed prior       mail, such as emancipation or change in custody. If it is a more
to the conference level if there are no substantial changes listed.        complex issue, the case will be scheduled for a conference to review
                                                                           the case.
The most common changes in circumstances would include a
substantial change in income of either party, change in child care         According to Pennsylvania state law, child support ends when a child
expenses, change in insurance, ongoing medical expenses (such as           turns 18 years of age or graduates from high school, which ever
braces), changes in custody, graduation or emancipation of a child, or     occurs last. DRS attempts to monitor cases for emancipation, but a
a change in the guidelines. In accordance with the Pennsylvania            defendant should file a petition to suspend if he/she believes a child is
state guidelines for support, a party who assumes a lower paying job,      emancipated.
voluntarily quits a job, or is fired for cause will not be relieved of a
support obligation.                                                        Spousal support ends effective the date of the parties’ final divorce
                                                                           decree. A defendant should file a petition to suspend and attach a
By filing a petition for review, the order may be modified either upward   copy of the divorce decree.
or downward depending on the situation. This means that a plaintiff
filing for an increase in support could actually have a decrease and       If a prior order had a clause for reinstatement of a suspended order,
vice versa. The party filing the petition has the right to have any        the plaintiff may file a “Petition to Reinstate” provided this request is
change go into effect the date that the petition was filed in DRS. A       within the time frame allowed in the suspension order. A $20.00
change will not be applied to a time prior to the filing date unless the   reinstatement fee is required with the petition.
parties agree on a date or the party can verify a compelling reason
existed and that the petition was filed promptly once the party was no
longer prevented from filing. Should the Conference Officer calculate
an amount that favors the party that did not file the petition, said
change would go into effect the date of the conference, if that party
requests the modification.

Petition for Amendment of Support Order forms for local cases may
be mailed to parties to complete and return, and are available in the
office lobby. An appointment is required to complete a modification
request that will be sent to another Pennsylvania county or another
state.
                                                                     21                                                                          22
  RECEPTIONIST / CLIENT SERVICES UNIT                                                     WHERE IS MY CASE NOW?
The primary functions of the Domestic Relations receptionists are to        Domestic Relations Section is divided into departments that handle a
sign in clients, schedule client appointments with their Enforcement        case throughout its cycle. Below is a breakdown of these
Officer and direct phone calls to the appropriate unit within the office.   departments and a brief description of their function.

Please do not ask them how to proceed with your case or to review           Intake assists clients in filing support complaints. This department is
your pleadings. If you have questions about your case, put them in          responsible for gathering the information needed to open a new case
writing and you will receive an answer from a staff member trained in       and establishing the case in the office.          They also schedule
the area of your concern.                                                   conferences to establish an order for support.

                                                                            Establishment is responsible for resolving paternity issues and
Clients requiring general information in regards to office policies and     establishing or modifying orders of support. Once a complaint or
procedures and/or basic payment information may phone in to speak           petition is filed, the case is forwarded to establishment to have a
with a Client Services Representative for assistance. All other             conference and gather the necessary information to calculate the
inquiries by phone will be instructed on the proper procedure for           guideline amount of support. If the parties have come to an
having their issues addressed.                                              agreement, this department will enter an order in accordance with
                                                                            said agreement.

                                                                            Paternity takes walk-in acknowledgments or denials of paternity,
                                                                            coordinates blood test appointments, and processes the blood test
                                                                            results.

                                                                            Administrative and Modification Unit processes all requests for
                                                                            modification of support orders on existing cases, including
                                                                            suspensions and reinstatements. Attempts are made to process as
                                                                            many cases as possible by verifying changes through
                                                                            correspondence with the parties. A member of this department also
                                                                            handles the scheduling of appeal hearings.

                                                                            Enforcement takes the necessary actions to ensure that all aspects
                                                                            of the current order of support are being met. Once an order is
                                                                            established, this department will answer any questions that arise or
                                                                            handle any problems.

                                                                            Locate / Fiscal Unit processes all incoming and outgoing DRS mail
                                                                            and investigates and resolves all financial referrals. They are
                                                                            responsible for updating case files with information change requests
                                                                            and employment questionnaires. This department acts as a liaison
                                                                            between PA SCDU and the clients and is responsible for all over-the-
                                                                            counter payments, including cash bails or cash purges.

                                                                            Client Services Unit answers general questions by phone. If they
                                                                            are unable to resolve the problem over the phone, the client will be
                                                                            advised how to proceed, in accordance with Domestic Relations’
                                                                            policies and procedures, to have their concern properly addressed.
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                 GLOSSARY OF TERMS                                         DPW – Department of Public Welfare

                                                                           DRS - Domestic Relations Section
10-Day Letter - an appointment scheduled by the enforcement officer
to inquire into the defendant’s noncompliance of any aspect of the
                                                                           DRS Case number - a five-digit number that identifies the paper file
order of support.
                                                                           in a case.
Absent parent – The parent who does not have primary care,
                                                                           Effective date - the date a monetary order begins charging (in a new
custody, or control of the child/ren, and has an obligation to pay child
                                                                           action) or the date a change in the ordered amount takes place (in a
support.
                                                                           modified order).
Administrative Order - an order entered without holding a joint
                                                                           Emancipation – when children have the ability to support
support conference.
                                                                           themselves. In Pennsylvania, generally when a child turns 18 years
                                                                           old or graduates from high school, whichever comes last.
Arrears – back support or fees owed. Past due arrears are due to
retroactivity of a monetary support order. Overdue arrears are
                                                                           Enforcement Officer - Domestic Relations worker assigned to a
arrears that have accrued since the entry of an order.
                                                                           case alphabetically by the defendant’s last name, which is
                                                                           responsible for applying enforcement procedures and responding to
Conference - a meeting at DRS level to establish, modify, or enforce
                                                                           client inquiries. (Also referred to as a caseworker)
a support order.
                                                                           Financial Institution Data Matching – the process of matching
Conference Officer – Domestic Relations worker qualified to conduct
                                                                           financial accounts and/or assets to delinquent child support cases.
a conference, as noted above, and apply the Pennsylvania statewide
                                                                           These accounts may be frozen and seized to satisfy the arrears.
guidelines to calculate a recommended amount of support.
                                                                           Garnishment - a legal proceeding under which part of a person’s
Credit Bureau Reporting - a defendant who has arrears greater than
                                                                           wages and/or an asset is withheld for payment of a debt.
two months support obligation is reported to the credit bureau. Should
the defendant apply for a loan or mortgage, the support debt status is
                                                                           Medical Split – a provision of a support order, which specifies the
reflected on their credit report.
                                                                           percentage of, unreimbursed medical expenses for which each party
                                                                           is responsible over and above the first $250.00 per child and/or
Custodial Party (CP) – the person who has primary care, custody,
                                                                           spouse per year of unreimbursed medical expenses.
and control of the child/ren.
                                                                           Medical Support Enforcement (MSE) - a party may file twice a year
Defendant – the person paying support.
                                                                           to collect qualified unreimbursed medical expenses, should the other
                                                                           party default on payment. Forms and instructions are available upon
Deviations – reasons to decrease or increase an order from the
                                                                           request.
basic guideline amount as established by the PA state guidelines.
                                                                           Monthly Support Obligation (MSO) – the amount of current support
Direct payments – payments that are made directly to the plaintiff
                                                                           an obligor is required to pay in a particular month.
and have not been sent through PA SCDU.
                                                                           Net monthly income – the income for the parties that support is
Driver’s license suspension - a defendant who has arrears of three
                                                                           based on; gross income less allowable taxes and expenses, such as
times their monthly support obligation and has not reported a current
                                                                           union dues or mandatory retirement.
employer may have their driver’s license suspended.


                                                                     25                                                                     26
Non-custodial Party (NCP) - a parent who does not have primary                              ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
care, custody, or control of the child(ren), and has an obligation to
pay child support.
                                                                             The Client Services Outreach Committee of York County Domestic
                                                                             Relations Section developed this handbook. The goal of this
Obligee – the person receiving support.
                                                                             committee is to provide the community and our clients with a better
                                                                             understanding of the policies and procedures of the Domestic
Obligor – the person paying support.
                                                                             Relations Section. We welcome any comments or suggestions that
                                                                             might be helpful in producing future editions of this handbook.
PACSES Case number - a nine-digit case number that identifies a
case in the computer system, known as PACSES (the statewide
                                                                             The following persons contributed to the production of this document:
computer system for Child support agencies in Pennsylvania).
                                                                             Diane Chantiles
                                                                             Carla Cummings – chairperson, editor and cover design
PACSES Member number - a ten-digit number assigned to each
                                                                             Kristie Dietz
member of a case that identifies him/her in the PACSES computer
                                                                             Angela Grayson
system.
                                                                             Mary Helwig
                                                                             Victoria Masek – Director of York County DRS
PA SCDU – The Pennsylvania State Collection & Disbursement Unit
                                                                             Alice Mader
is a centralized collection unit for the state of Pennsylvania, located in
                                                                             Therese Scott
Harrisburg, which is responsible for collecting and disbursing support
                                                                             Elaine Tuttle – Assistant Director of York County DRS
payments.
                                                                             A special thanks to Douglas Younger for technical assistance.
Petitioner - the moving party who files for support, modification, or
suspension.

Plaintiff - the person receiving support.

Ureimbursed Medical Expenses - expenses for health care for a
dependant not covered by insurance, including medical services and
supplies, dental, optical services, and orthodontia.




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