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What happens if I don't pay child support in Pennsylvania?

Once a judge orders that child support must be paid, there are several ways to pay. Failure to pay has consequences that vary according to the specific circumstances. Government issued licenses can be denied or suspended including those issued for driving, hunting or fishing, licenses for professional occupations and commercial driver's licenses if there are at least 3 months of child support in arrears and income has not been ordered withheld. Failure to pay can also affect credit ratings, bring about liens on real estate and negatively impact hiring and employment. Tax refunds and other government payments may be reduced. In some cases, jail time and fines may apply.

When a parent ordered to pay falls behind the state has several ways to attempt repayment. Banks may be ordered to release assets to satisfy payments owed. Lottery winnings can be confiscated. Personal injury settlements or worker's compensation payments can be intercepted. The court may order participation in work programs or for the parent owing support to obtain employment.

Failure to pay can have a negative affect on the parent's standing in the community. In Pennsylvania, anyone falling behind on child support for 30 days may have their name published in the local newspaper. It is important that the payments are made through the appropriate agency. If the parent paying child support changes address or place of employment, this must be reported within a week.

Paying child support is important to the affected children. Failure to pay can result in legal consequences and can harm credit. In some circumstances, it may be possible to modify the child support order.A family law attorney may explain the options that are available.

Source: Pennsylvania Child Support Handbook, "Paying Child Support", September 10, 2014

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