If you are the obligor or the obligee of a child support order entered in Allegheny County, PA, here are 6 things you must know when it comes to your child support order:
1.File for Modification
If you lost your job or are experiencing a decrease in income due to the COVID-19 crisis, you can file for modification of your child support order at https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/csws/?Preference=Desktop&Owner=Client.The court is not processing petitions for modification at this time (i.e., scheduling conferences/hearings), but filing a petition for modification now will preserve your retroactivity date. This means that once the courts open and do start processing petitions for modification, and your conference/hearing date is scheduled at some point several months from now, the court will look at reducing your child support order all the way back to the date you filed for modification.
2. Enforcement Measures Suspended
The court has suspended enforcement of child support orders for the time being. For now, they will not freeze your bank accounts, suspend drivers or professional licenses, report you to the credit bureaus for late payments, etc. Thus, if you lost your job, you can breathe a sigh of relief. For those who are still working and have not experienced a decrease in income, this does not mean that you can stop making your child support payments. You must continue to pay child support as ordered.
4. IRS Tax Refund
If your case qualifies for the IRS tax refund intercept (check the IRS website for more info,) the IRS will continue to intercept those refunds to pay outstanding child support to the other party, despite a loss of income due to COVID-19.
5. Stimulus checks
The court will not intercept stimulus checks issued pursuant to the $2 trillion coronavirus bill to pay towards child support arrears unless your income has not been affected by COVID-19. There are court officials who are going to be reviewing each case- if they see that there is no interruption in your wage attachment and that you are continuing to make payments on time each month, the court is going to assume that your income has not been effected and they WILL intercept your stimulus check. If the court sees that no child support payments are coming in that you are now receiving Unemployment Compensation, they will likely not intercept your stimulus check. This is just for Allegheny County – we do not yet know what the other counties are doing.
6. If the court does attempt to enforce your child support order…
If you lost your job or have experienced a decrease in income due to COVID-19, and the court IS executing enforcement measures (freezing your bank account) or your stimulus check was intercepted when you believe it should not have been, you may have some remedies. The judges have instituted some procedures to allow attorneys to bring motions before them remotely to address such issues.