Notably, Rule 1910.19 has gotten a little more specific by indicating that when there is an overpayment in excess of two months of the monthly support obligation, the domestic relations section will reduce the support obligation by 20% or an amount sufficient to retire the overpayment by the time support order is terminated. Obviously, there can be a big difference between 20% and an “amount sufficient” to ensure the credit is cleared when the order terminates – that could take years.
The revisions offers for the first time a form for the “Petition for Recovery of Support Overpayment in Active Case” and a “Petition for Recovery of Support Overpayment in Closed Case.” These basic forms are helpful to attorneys and clients, alike and will allow for a standardized petition process for bringing this issue before the Court. As the rule indicates, the parties now have 30 days (rather than 60 days) to contest the reduction; if they do, a conference will be scheduled and the local practice will take over for that county. If neither party responds or objects to the reduction notice, the domestic relations section has the authority to reduce the order as described above.
As we discussed last November when Pennsylvania first revised this section of the code, this rule changes represents a more balanced approach to dealing with overpayments when compared to the practice of dealing with child support arrears. While not equal in terms of remedies (child support arrears may be satisfied by tax return intercept, bank account seizure, and other efforts to force payment), it is a much better system for the paying party than in the past.