The purpose of child support is to pay for the financial, educational, medical, and overall well-being of a child. The parent without custody usually pays child support. When parents share custody, the parent with the higher income pays child support so that the child has the same lifestyle in the households of each parent.

How Do You Petition for Child Support?

The two ways you can begin the process to get child support are:

  • Directly filing a lawsuit with domestic relations section of the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas; or
  • Completing an application for child support the Pennsylvania Bureau of Child Support Enforcement.

Both parents must provide the court with information about their employment, wages and other finances. If there is doubt about who is the father the child, the court also may require that the parents take a paternity test.

What If You Don't Pay Child Support?

It is against the law to stop paying child support that the court orders. The law can take actions to get the unpaid payments as well as punish you for violating the child support order. You may face one or more the following consequences for not paying on time:

  • Taking money out of your paycheck;
  • Taking your tax refund check;
  • A judge forcing you to work or join an employment program;
  • Reporting you to a credit agency
  • Suspending your license (driver’s, professional, or recreational)
  • Denying you from getting or renewing your passport
  • Paying fines; or
  • Going to jail.

What Recourse can the Other Parent Have if You Don't Pay for Support?

A parent that is owed child support can file a case with court or a claim with the child support enforcement agency to get any unpaid payments. The court will require the paying parent to make payments on his own or take the money from his paycheck or tax refund. 

How Can You Stop Paying Child Support?

A paying parent may file a petition with the court to stop his child support order with an important change in circumstances occurs. You must go to court to stop your payments. It is against the law to stop paying child support payments on your own.

Circumstances that may end your child support obligation are:

  • Your child reaches age 18 or graduates high school, whichever happens last;
  • You lose your job;
  • You and the custodial parent are now living together;
  • Your child now lives with you.
  • You are in jail; or
  • You find out that you are not the father.

Where Can You Find the Right Lawyer?

If you need help with petitioning or adjusting a child support order, then contact a Pennsylvania family law lawyer today to help you understand your child support rights and obligations.