Dads and Domestic Relations
Domestic Relations is very important 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 is money one parent pays to help provide food, clothing, housing, entertainment and other items for his or her child. Child support may also include medical support, payment of uncovered medical bills and contributions to child care costs.
The county Domestic Relations office is the extension of the Court of the Common Pleas that calculates child support. The steps in the process include:
- A parent files a complaint for child support with the court.
- The Domestic Relations office will set a date for a support conference about three weeks from when the complaint is filed.
- Notice of the date and time of the support conference will be sent to both parents.
- The support conference will be when the support payments will be calculated.
- Support payments are usually due retroactively to the date of filing.
DO – Communicate.
There is usually no subjective element to the process of determining support payments. The math is the math. Further, the workers in the Domestic Relations office are civil servants with a function to ensure the appropriate financial support of children. You can, and should, contact them with any questions that you may have.
The support order can be appealed. However, the original finding will have been based on the information and numbers that were provided at the support conference. If you have no new information there likely will be no grounds to overturn it.
Be prepared, be informed and do your homework prior to the support conference.
In advance of the support conference contact the Domestic Relations Office and:
1) Clarify what you need.
2) Ask about the key factors that are included in the formula used to calculate support.
3) Ask what other factors may be involved in the calculation in your situation given your employment, living situations, relationship status, etc.
4) ask any other questions you may have.
The communication does not have to stop after the conference. Everyone’s situation is unique. You can contact the Domestic Relations office to provide updates that might affect your status as either a payer or payee.
If circumstances change either party may file for a change of support at any time. The domestic relations office will provide a list of records to bring that effect the factors that support the amount that will be determined.
The Centre County Domestic Relations office phone number is 814-355-6741.
The Pennsylvania Child Support Helpline phone number is 1-800-932-0211.
The Department of Human Services Helpline phone number is 1-800-692-7462.
Don’t – The biggest mistake, by far, is not being prepared.
There is a complicated formula that determines the amount of support payments. In order to have the most accurate finding you will have to take the time to do two things:
The Domestic Relations office will provide a list of records to bring to the determination hearing. You should secure all of these items in advance and make sure that you bring them all with you to the hearing.
Do your homework and look into the factors that affect the support determination. The Pennsylvania Domestic Relations website has a Child Support Estimator that you can use to have an idea of the process and also do your own calculation.
These are SOME of the factors included in the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines:
The number of children for whom child support is being requested.
The gross income for both the custodial and the noncustodial parents.
Local and state tax rate.
Monthly amount paid for child care.
The amount of any alimony or spousal support received.
The amount of any monthly health insurance premiums for the children.
The monthly amount of any union dues.
Any non-voluntary retirement paid by the custodial and noncustodial parents.
Other sources of income.