Can I get back child support?

Q: Can I now, as an adult, collect the back child support my father owes my mother? I was told it was possible, and it would really help my situation. (Westview, PA)

A: She is the party of interest, not you, so she can bring the claim. You can help her do it, or if she signs a Power of Attorney to you for this purpose, you can. It is not easy to do, especially if he lives in another state. Even if you have no trouble reducing the support arrears to a judgment, you still need to successfully execute on his property to have any hope of payment. Finding his property and executing on it, is usually the most difficult part of the process. I would go to the Allegheny County Family Division at 440 Ross Street in Downtown Pittsburgh and see what you can learn on your own. You may also want the help of an experienced family attorney.

Married for two months, will I have to pay support?

Q: We were married for two months and split up. I want to get a divorce.

A: Child support, most likely. Spousal support, alimony pendente lite or alimony, perhaps not. More information is needed to give you a definitive answer. However, if you were married for only two months then separated, you have a good argument to not pay spousal support. (Pittsburgh, PA)

Will warrant be issued if parent no shows for child support hearing?

Q: The mother is on government medical/ food stamp assistance. The child support case is in PA. The mother of child did not show up to the first initial hearing. The hearing has been rescheduled. Will a warrant be issued for me if I do not attend the hearing? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I do not believe the Family Division issues warrants for parties that do not show for hearings to establish child support. If it was a contempt hearing for failure to pay child support, they could hold a hearing without you, find you in contempt in absentia, then issue a warrant. If you fail to appear at a support establishment hearing, they will conduct a hearing without you and issue an order, which will likely require you to pay support.

How do I find out what I owe on child support?

Q: I have been paying child support for 15 years. I have missed in the past but have lost my records when my house was foreclosed on. How do I find out what I really owe, instead of listening to her nutty attorney?

A: Do it on line by going to www.humanservices.state.pa.us. You can create an account and search for your case. If your case is in Allegheny County, you can also go to the Allegheny County Family Division at 440 Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh. After you pass through the metal detectors, there is a help desk straight ahead.

I have a traffic court warrant. Will child support arrest me?

Q: It’s not the type of warrant where they come to your door. But I don’t want to go to Family Court to file for child support, if I’m going to get arrested. My son won’t have anyone to take care of him. I plan on handling the warrant when my mother comes to visit. Can I file for support without arrest? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If the warrant was issued by a District Justice office for failure to appear, I would call the office. Most of the time you can reschedule a missed traffic hearing. This may involve paying the collateral deposit and pleading not-guilty. Once this is done the warrant would be cleared

How do I appeal denial of child support?

Q: I was denied reconsideration by judge and the current child support modification is in place. My ex (divorce pending) retired at age 40 due to stress. Judge failed to consider earning capacity. As he is a healthy male with no physical or mental limitations. Please answer lost in pa

A: You need to file all the required appeals which would start with Exceptions to the Recommendations of the Hearing Officer. If the Judge affirmed the Hearing Officer, then you would file a reconsideration motion which it sounds like you have already done. Once the judge denies your reconsideration request, you have thirty days to appeal to the Superior Court. I would consult with an experienced Family Lawyer with who you can share all the facts and whom can advise you whether it is worth an appeal.

Is an enforcement hearing different from a contempt hearing?

Q: My sons father hasn’t paid since July of 2017. He owes over $4,000.00. There was an enforcement hearing on Monday, which I could not attend. Today, I received paper saying on March 21st there is a contempt hearing. So, I was just curious as to what goes on at the enforcement hearing and what goes on at the contempt. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: When you hear the word, “contempt”, it is generally not good. It means that the defendant has failed to comply with an order of court. In Family Law, if a judge orders a defendant to pay X amount by X date, and the defendant does not, a contempt hearing is held. At the hearing if the judge determines that the defendant is in contempt, the law permits the judge to sentence the defendant to 6 months in jail. The ways around it are to pay the full amount by the time of the hearing or make a substantial payment before the hearing or bring a substantial amount of money to the hearing. It is generally all about money. If no payment is made and the defendant has no valid excuse for not paying, he may be spending spring and summer in the Allegheny Iron Hilton.

Can I get in trouble if I received child support for a child in CYF?

Q: My child was taken out of my care and placed with her grandmother on some fake allegations by my ex. I’m still receiving child support for said child. Can I get in trouble if I take the money? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If this child is dependent and CYF is paying this caretaker, then the child support should go to the county and not you. I would need more details, but I think it is possible you can be ordered to pay this back after the county attorneys get involved. Normally, if a child is in a paid placement, the parents can be sued by the county for support. I would call the Family Division or visit them and get behind this early.

Can I get sued for child support if he is already 12 years old?

Q: An ex-girlfriend told me that I was her child’s father after almost 13 years later. She had her previous boyfriend paying child support for all those years, and I guess they’re separated now. I heard she was saying her support wasn’t enough because he was on SSI and now I’m next in line because I have a good paying job. I’m married now with a family and didn’t see this coming. (Bridgeville, PA)

A:  If you never signed the birth certificate, or signed an acknowledgment of paternity form, held yourself out as the father or paid child support, you may have a defense. If you are served with a child support complaint, take it to a lawyer. The boyfriend may be estopped (barred) from not paying child support because under the law he may be deemed the putative father.


Do I need a lawyer? Does he have a case?

Q: My husband and I have a 27 years old autistic son, I took care of him until he was 18 years old. He has been living with my husband since then. My husband wants to get divorce now and hired a lawyer to sue me for child support. My son receives SS and PPL. will I have to pay him? He makes more than 300,000 a year. I make $1,000 a month. (West View, PA)

A: Just because one parent earns much more than the other does not necessarily mean that the lower earning parent will not owe child support. The net incomes, in addition to other information (i.e. other support obligations, household income, unusual debts and expenses) are computed under the state child support guidelines. However, this is quite a disparity of income and should give your attorney much to work with to lower your support as much as possible.