Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Program (2024)

Child Support is money a parent pays to help provide food, clothing and other things for his or her child. Child support may include medical support, payment of uncovered medical bills and contributions to child care costs.

The Department of Human Services, Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) administers the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Program. State and federal laws govern how child support orders are established and enforced. These laws also govern how child support is collected.


Child support enforcement services in Pennsylvania are provided by the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) of the county Court of Common Pleas. The DRS helps parents apply for child support services, establish paternity and support orders, and enforce support orders. A DRS worker will set up an appointment or help with an application. If you have domestic or family violence concerns, talk with the DRS about safety measures. There is more information regarding family violence within the Domestic Violence subpage.

The county DRS can also help if the noncustodial parent lives in another county, a different state or even another country. The noncustodial parent is the parent who does not live with the child and must pay child support.

Feel free to ask questions of the DRS worker. You should keep a written record of contacts with the DRS and the documents received from the DRS.

Applyingfor Child Support

When applying for child support, a complaint for child support must be filed with the court. If the mother of the child is unmarried, the DRS will need proof of the child's paternity. For additional information about establishing paternity, see subpage "establishing paternity".

The DRS will schedule a support conference and send notices with the date and time to the parents. Child support owed to the family usually begins on the date the complaint was filed.

What do I need to bring with me to the Domestic Relations Section when I apply for child support?

Bring as much information as you can regarding the noncustodial parent including name, Social Security Number, place of employment and address. Also bring along information pertaining to your income and assets and information regarding any expenses you pay for your child such as health care, day care and special needs. You should also bring a copy of the child's birth certificate and social security card, if possible.

Does it cost anything to file for ChildSupport?

The Fayette County DRS does not charge a filing fee.

Are there any additional fees?

The United States Congress requires collection of a $25 annual fee each year for open/active child support cases that receive at least $500 in child support payments if the custodial parent has never received cash assistance. The commonwealth will pay the $25 fee for families with collections between $500 and $1,999.99.

Who is responsible for paying the annual fee?

The $25 fee will be collected from the custodial parent in cases which have annual collections that equal or exceed $2,000.

When is the annual fee collected?

The $25 fee is collected once each Federal Fiscal Year (FFY). The FFY is the period between October 1 and September 30 of the following year. The $25 fee will be collected between October 1 to November 30 and March 1 to September 30. The fee will not be collected in the months of December, January and February.

PennsylvaniaChild Support Program Website

You can learn more about the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Program and check information about your child support case at You will need to establish a password to view the details of your case on this website. To access the PA Child Support Program website, log into and register. You will be able to view details and update information about your child support case such as:

  • Add or update personal contact information (address, phone number, email, etc.)
  • Change your password
  • Update communication preferences to either opt-in or opt-out of text messaging, email or mobile telephone communication
  • Submit employment information
  • View specific child support case information including payment information, scheduled appointments and docket information
  • Submit support documents online

Can I submit support documents online?

Support documents may be submitted online at through the E-Services feature. Select the "Request Support Services" button or go to the "Begin or Resume a Request for Support Services" link under the heading "I Would Like To...". E-Services can be used to submit documents required to open new support orders, modify existing orders and recover overpayments. Documents submitted online are sent electronically to your county DRS. Information about the next steps in the process will be provided after the documents are submitted.

How long will it take to complete and submit documents online?

The online document submission should take 30 minutes or less to complete.

Where do I apply for spousal support?

The county DRS also handles spousal support matters. Ask the DRS if you have questions about applying for spousal support.

Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System (PACSES)

PACSES is the statewide computer system that is used by the county domestic relations sections. Case, personal and payment information are maintained in PACSES. DRS staff use PACSES to monitor support payments and enforce support orders.

ForYour Information

Contact the county DRS that handles your case if you have any questions about the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Program. You can also call the Child Support Helpline at 1-800-932-0211 for more information. There are more phone numbers and resources within the appropriate subpage.

The information contained here is not intended to give solutions for all situations. Each child support case has individual differences that may require special attention by a qualified professional at the DRS.

Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement Program (2024)


How does PA enforce child support? ›

A parent who is owed child support can use each and every legal tool available to enforce the order, including wage garnishments, wage assignments, contempt of court decrees and the seizure of the non-payor's property by writ of execution.

Can child support arrears be forgiven in PA? ›

Can The Retroactive Amount be Waived? Can Child Support Arrears Be Forgiven in Pennsylvania? While this is not generally something that the court will bring up for you, there is a chance the retroactive amount can be waived if the two parents come to a mutual agreement.

How can I get out of paying child support in PA? ›

To be relieved of your obligation to pay child support, you must file a Petition to Terminate Child Support pursuant to Rule 1910.19. It is best to file this Petition well before a Pennsylvania child support order expires or before your child turns 18. This ensures a judge reviews your Petition promptly.

Can you go to jail for not paying child support in PA? ›

If a parent doesn't pay, he or she can be held in contempt and fined or sent to jail. Also, his or her driver's license (and any professional license) may be suspended. A parent can also face criminal charges if nonpayment continues for an extended period of time.

What is the deadbeat father law in PA? ›

Pennsylvania's Dead Beat Parent Law punishes parents who: Owe more than three months of child support. Failed to stick to a child custody order. Failed to follow a partial custody order.

What happens at an enforcement hearing for child support in PA? ›

Initially, the obligor will be scheduled to return to Domestic Relations for an “Enforcement Conference” in an attempt to try to work with the obligor and find ways to ensure his or her compliance. If that is not successful, then the obligor will be scheduled to go in front of a Judge for Contempt proceedings.

What happens if I lose my job and can t pay child support in pa? ›

If a parent loses a job or otherwise experiences financial hardship, their obligation to pay child support is not generally modifiable unless that hardship occurred through no fault of the parent's own and is not likely to resolve soon.

How long can you not pay child support in PA? ›

How long must parents pay child support? The duty to support a child continues until the child is 18 years old or graduates from high school, whichever is later. In situations where the child is disabled this duty may continue beyond age 18.

How does back child support work in PA? ›

In Pennsylvania, retroactive child support can be claimed under certain circ*mstances. For instance, if a parent has been providing sole financial support for the child without any contribution from the other parent, they may be eligible to file a claim for retroactive child support.

What is the new child support law in PA? ›

Child support can still be paid by the party with the higher income when there is shared custody, but the higher earning party will receive a 20% reduction based on a 50/50 schedule. A reduction is available if the higher earning party has anywhere from 40% to 50% of the custody of the children.

Does Pennsylvania enforce out of state child support? ›

If the noncustodial parent lives in another state, Pennsylvania and the other state are required by law to cooperate in enforcement of the child support obligation. See 42 U.S.C. § 654(9). States are also required to assist in locating a non-custodial parent within their state for enforcement purposes.

How long do you go to jail for child support in PA? ›

If a court finds a parent in contempt, the judge may also order the parent to pay monetary fines and serve up to six months in jail. Parents can usually avoid serving much jail time by paying the full amount of back child support owed.

How much do you have to owe in child support to go to jail in PA? ›

Under federal law, the threshold past which failure to pay child support becomes criminal is $5,000.

What is a bench warrant for child support in PA? ›

When a final support order is entered through either a decision by the presiding official or agreement, the payer is required to make timely payments to the court pursuant to the support order. Failure to make timely payments may result in a bench warrant issued for your arrest.

How far behind can you be on child support in PA? ›

According to law, any child support payment that is not paid when due automatically becomes a judgment after 30 days. This means that the judgment will have full force and effect like any other judgment of court, and will be enforceable in this or any other state.


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