Handbook :: Support

What is Support?

The term support is usually defined as money given by a person to help provide food, clothing, shelter and other necessities for his or her dependents. The term “dependents” refers to the spouse and/or children whom a person is legally bound to support.
Therefore, in Domestic Relations, support refers to two separate financial obligations, child support and spousal support.

Types of Support:

  • Child Support: Support and medical coverage for dependent children.
  • Spousal Support: Support for a dependent spouse if the parties are married, but living apart.
  • Medical Coverage and Other Expenses: There are other types of support besides money, which may be requested during a support action. The plaintiff (person filing for support) may request that medical and hospital coverage for the spouse and children be provided by the defendant (the person being asked to pay support). This request is limited by the kind of coverage available & the cost to the defendant.
    A plaintiff may request that the defendant help contribute toward medical expenses not covered by insurance.
    The defendant may be required to pay for a share of the day care expenses for the children, which allows the plaintiff to work or attend school in pursuit of income.
    Support does not take into consideration for private school tuition or other needs of a child not specifically addressed in the guidelines. If one or more needs are reasonable, the expenses may be shared between the parties.
    If plaintiff is living in the marital residence & the mortgage payment exceeds 25% of the plaintiff’s net income (including amounts of spousal support, APL (Alimony Pendente Lite) & child support), the defendant may be directed to assume up to 50% of the excess amount as part of the total support award.

View Medical Support Information

Who may request Support?

Pennsylvania law states that the “custodial parent” (the parent the child lives with) or any adult or agency caring for a minor child, or any married individual living apart from his/her spouse may request support from the absent parent or spouse. The law states that both parents have an obligation to support their children, but the amount of the support obligation depends on many factors. The most important factor is the net income of each parent. The way that the Domestic Relations Section figures net income is described later in this manual. Both parents are expected to support their children as much as they are financially able.

Generally, a child has a right to receive support until his or her 18th birthday or until graduation from high school whichever is the later date. Parents may also be required to pay child support when their child has been placed outside of the home by a Juvenile Court, Judge or child welfare agency such as Clearfield County Children and Youth Services. In those instances, the local county is the plaintiff, and both parents are expected to reimburse the county as determined by state guidelines.

How to Apply for Support

If you wish to start a new support case, add a child to a present active case or reopen an old case, contact Domestic Relations at (814) 765-5339 between 8:30 AM and 4:00 PM. Tell the operator that you wish to speak to an Intake Officer. If the Intake Officer does not answer, leave a message informing the worker of your request; be sure to leave your name and daytime phone number. The officer will return your call as soon as possible to make an appointment for your Intake interview.

Preparing for Your Intake Appointment

Before you come in to open your case, gather as much of the following information as possible to bring with you for your appointment:

  1. Social Security cards/numbers for yourself and the children who reside with you.
  2. The name, address, social security number, date of birth, and employer of the “absent parent” (i.e., the person who will pay support).
  3. Medical insurance cards and numbers for yourself and the absent parent.
  4. Birth certificates for the children in your care.
  5. Marriage license and divorce decree, if applicable.
  6. A photograph of the absent parent.
  7. The drivers license number of the person who will pay support.

Your Intake Interview

You can expect to spend about an hour for the Intake Interview. For the best possible service, please arrive on time. You will be seen by an Intake Officer who will prepare a support complaint and answer any questions you may have about your case. You will also be scheduled for a support Conference to determine how much the absent parent will pay for support. The date of the support Conference will be approximately 4 to 8 weeks from the date of the interview.

Note: Support complaints are sometimes sent to another county or state if the absent parent lives there, but it is not always necessary to do so. There are federal and state laws that allow us to address a case in Clearfield County even if the absent parent lives outside Clearfield County or the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Intake Interviewer will discuss this issue during your interview if appropriate, and will determine if the case will be sent to another court. If the case is sent to a court outside Pennsylvania, the other court will establish and enforce the support order and send the payments to our office. In such cases, you are not required to go to the other court for any hearings.

Regardless of where the parties live, the simplest way for us to administer a support case is as a “local case.” In a “local case”, the local court – the Clearfield County Court of Common Pleas, for example – is the “single point of contact” for the parties in resolving all support issues pertaining to the administration of the support order.

However, although support cases can – and generally should – be administered as “local cases” (even if one of the parties lives out-of-state), there are times when it is better – even necessary – to administer a case as an “Interstate Case.” When administering a support case as an Interstate case, another Court or tribunal is involved. Administration of Interstate cases is governed by legal rules established by U.I.F.S.A. (The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act).

U.I.F.S.A. law has been adopted by all of the U.S. States and Territories, including Puerto Rico and Guam.

Click the following link to find out more about Interstate Case Processing and U.I.F.S.A. following this link will let you view the Processing Interstate Cases/UIFSA web-based training module hosted by the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (O.C.S.E.).

If the absent parent lives in a nearby county, you may go to that county and file a support action in their Domestic Relations Section. Clearfield County will not be involved in the action, and you will have to attend hearings in their court when scheduled.

It is generally desirable to have both parties in a case report to the same court. If circumstances allow you to file a case directly with the court that will be hearing the matter (often the court where the defendant lives or works), we encourage you to do so.

Locating the Absent Parent

Domestic Relations cannot file a complaint without a good address for the absent parent. If you do not know the absent parent’s current address, Intake staff will work on your case based on the information you provide. You may be called at a later date to give more information. The Domestic Relations office uses a variety of sources to try to locate an absent parent. Some of these sources include federal and state tax information, driver’s license, credit bureau and public assistance information as well as employment information.

If a good address is found, you will be contacted again to come in and complete the complaint. If the absent parent cannot be located, your case may be closed based upon the lack of necessary information

Your Support Folder

When you leave your Intake Interview, you will be given an envelope with copies of all the paperwork you signed, other handouts, and this handbook. You will always receive copies of documents filed and orders entered. Keep these and all subsequent documents together for your records. Refer to them any time you contact Domestic Relations about your case. If you need a copy of any of these documents in the future, there is a charge of $1.00 per page.

Preparing for your Office Visit

  1. Make sure you know exactly where you are to appear, and arrive on time.
  2. Be sure to bring whatever mail you have received from Domestic Relations with you when you come to the office.
  3. Know and understand the reasons why you are there, and be prepared to tell Domestic Relations staff exactly what you are asking for.
  4. Always be honest. Failing to tell the truth is a crime, and could cause the Domestic Relations staff to doubt your truthfulness in general.
  5. Although these matters may be very upsetting to you, focus your attention on the purpose of your appearance. Present the facts as you know them. Remember, staff members are here to serve both parties, and are trying to do what is in the best interest of all.
  6. Bring all information with you that will help to prove your position (receipts, bills, income information, etc.).
  7. Bring all completed forms and all papers and letters which the court may have sent you in advance.
  8. Make two (2) copies of all materials you bring with you. One copy will be for the Domestic Relations files and one copy for the other party.
  9. Always keep a file or special envelope with all your records.

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