(Photo: Its All About Aging)
A glance at the Pennsylvania Support Code reveals the various enforcement mechanisms at the disposal of county Domestic Relations Offices. Rule 1910.20 offers remedies such as liens on real estate, reporting the delinquency to credit reporting agencies, and the initiation of a contempt action.Montgomery County recently announced a program to help encourage delinquent child support payors to come in and work on resolving their unpaid child support. On May 29th, Montgomery County Sheriff Eileen Behr announced that the creation of a one-week “amnesty period” beginning June 10th for parents who are delinquent on their child support.
During the amnesty period, delinquent parents can to go to the Montgomery County Domestic Relations Office and set up a payment plan or other arrangements to pay down their support arrears and begin to regularly pay their monthly support obligation.
The alternative is that the they will be arrested. If a party does not come into DRO to address their arrears, Sheriff Bahr has made it pretty clear: they are coming for you. Montgomery County Sheriff Deputies will be deployed in warrant teams to begin the process of serving bench warrants against individuals who have failed to pay their support. The Sheriff’s Department also has an anonymous tip line for information on delinquent parents.
These people have bench warrants due to DRO initating contempt actions against them for failing to pay child support and they never showed up to the hearing. Anyone familiar with this process knows the drill: the judge reads the list of cases and if the clerk indicates the paying party did not appear, a bench warrant is issued without further discussion.
Sheriff Behr stated that in cooperation with the Domestic Relations Office and Court of Common Pleas that the Sheriff’s office has “approximately 300 outstanding warrants that represent $5.7 million dollars in back child support.” The County takes things a step further by listing delinquent paying parents on its website.
Though not as creative as Lee County, Alabama who set up a sting operation offering Alabama/Auburn football tickets as bait, it is a way for Montgomery County to try to collect the more than $5.7 million in uncollected child support and hold delinquent parents accountable for their child support obligations.