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How child support is collected and disbursed

Pennsylvania parents may wonder how they might receive their child support payments once they have obtained a child support order. Every state has a system that is established for collecting and disbursing child support payments.

When a parent has a child support order under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act, the state is mandated to collect the child support payment directly and then to disburse it. If the custodial parent receives Temporary Aid for Needy Families, then the state is allowed to reimburse itself and the federal government for the TANF amount up to the full child support payment. States must also collect and disburse child support for custodial parents who do not have Title IV-D cases but who do have child support orders that include income withholding orders.

For non-TANF child support cases, the state's central child support unit collects the payments by garnishing the amounts directly from the noncustodial parents' paychecks. The amounts are then sent to the custodial parents from the state. Having central child support units established in each state is meant to help make certain that parents who are ordered to pay child support keep current with their payments so that their children will receive the financial support that they need.

Even though Pennsylvania has a central unit that is responsible for collecting and disbursing child support, some parents still fail to comply with their orders. In some cases, this is because they do not have income-withholding orders. In others, the parents may have left their jobs without updating their employment information with the state. When parents are delinquent or fail to pay child support, they may face multiple penalties. Custodial parents who are owed back child support might want to talk to a family law attorney to see what methods of enforcement might be available.

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