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Lancaster County Courts, PA

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What is support?

Support is usually defined as money given by a person to help provide necessities for his/her dependents including food, clothing, shelter, transportation etc. Under Pennsylvania law, a dependent could include children and/or a spouse. In addition to money, support can also include medical support, which may include providing health insurance coverage and/or payment of medical bills which are not paid by insurance. Support can also include a contribution to childcare costs.

How do I start a support action in DRS?

As part of the federal child support program, DRS provides assistance to a person who wishes to file a support action against a parent. This free service is provided on a first come, first served basis and no appointment is needed. Support actions may also be submitted to DRS by filing electronically through the PA Child Support Website www.childsupport.state.pa.us.

Appointments may be needed for clients who need to file the support action to another state. Whether you start the process online or by coming into the office, DRS employees will confirm the information and request any additional information, if necessary. DRS will also accept and file support complaints which have been prepared by your attorney.

What do I bring with me when I want to open a support case?

To assist Domestic Relations (DRS) employees at the time you file for support, you should bring as much of the following information and documents:

  • A valid form of photo identification (i.e., PA driver’s license; work ID; PA DHS ID, etc.)
  • Any health insurance cards
  • Birth certificates for yourself and any children
  • Information regarding your address and employment
  • Social Security cards for yourself and any children
*If you filed electronically, you should bring the documents listed above at the time of your scheduled conference.
Please bring as much of the following information regarding the person you are filing against for support:
  • Address, employer, and telephone numbers
  • Full name, Social Security number, and date of birth
  • Other information you may have which will help DRS locate this person
  • Physical description (height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc.)

Defendant Data Information Form

What happens during a support conference?

The conference officer (CO) will conduct the conference with the parties and their attorneys should they choose to be represented. The CO will review the complaint, earnings reported by employer, pay stubs and other relevant information.
Once all information is obtained, the CO will calculate the amount of support using statewide support guidelines. If you want to estimate the amount of support paid or received before the conference, go to Estimate my Child Support Amount.
The CO will explain the support guidelines and how they apply to the support request. If an agreement is reached, an Order will be prepared for parties’ signatures. If no agreement is reached, the conference will terminate and the CO will submit his/her recommendation to the court.

What is a recommended order?

A recommendation is prepared by the CO following a conference if no agreement for support was reached. The conference officer will write a summary of the facts of the case and recommend an appropriate support order (or other disposition) to the court. The assigned family court judge will review the summary and determine whether to approve what has been recommended. Copies of the summary and any order entered by the court will be mailed to the parties and any attorneys. Either party has 20 days from mailing of the recommended order to request a hearing before the Court.

Can a support order be modified?

All support orders in Domestic Relations (DRS) are based on statewide support guidelines which are issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Either party can file a Petition for Modification of an existing support order at any time that a party believes that a substantial change of circumstances has occurred. If you think the circumstances have changed in your case and you want a conference scheduled in DRS, you can:

  • Come to DRS during regular business hours. DRS staff will assist you in filing a Petition for Modification.
  • Call DRS. A customer service representative can mail the form to you to fill out, sign and return to DRS.
  • Go to the Pennsylvania Child Support Program Website. Registered users on this site can file their petition for modification electronically using the E-Services feature.
  • Contact your attorney.
If you are not sure whether to file for modification of your support order, you can:
  • Contact your attorney.
  • Go to the Pennsylvania Child Support Program Website for information in the Child Support Handbook. The Child Support Website also has a support estimator if you want an estimate of your child support amount.
  • Review the PA Rules of Civil Procedure – copies are available in the Lancaster County Law Library located in the Lancaster County Courthouse at 50 North Duke Street in Lancaster. The Rules are also available online at www.pacode.com
Once a Petition for Modification is filed in DRS, a conference will be scheduled. Notice of the date, time and location of the conference will be mailed to all parties. Parties filing for modification of the support order should be aware that after information is presented, the support order will be modified in an appropriate manner based on the support guidelines. If parties reach an agreement to modify a support order and do not want to have a conference, the parties may appear together in DRS during regular business hours. Before preparing an agreement for the parties to sign, the Conference Officer must calculate what a support award would be under the statewide support guidelines – this is a requirement of the child support program to make sure that the agreement is entered with full disclosure and informed consent. Parties should bring with them information about their income, any child care costs or health insurance premiums.
  • DRS Conference Officers will also mail agreements for your convenience. To request an agreement by mail, parties must complete and return the attached form - Request for Modification Agreement – to DRS. DRS will prepare the agreement you request and mail it to you with a copy of the guideline calculation based on the information you provide.

How are payments made under a support order?

The defendant / obligor (parent ordered to pay support) should make the first support payment at the initial support conference. This payment can be in any amount, please discuss this with the conference officer. At the initial support conference, DRS employees will accept cash payments, money orders, or personal checks.

After the support order is established, an income withholding order will be issued to the defendant’s / obligor’s employer to deduct the support from wages or other forms of income. It usually takes several weeks for this to go into effect. At the conference, the conference officer will give you temporary payment coupons and payment instructions on how to make ongoing support payments to the Pennsylvania Support Collection and Disbursement Unit (PA SCDU) until the support is deducted from your paycheck.

PA SCDU accepts personal checks, money orders, or cashier checks by mail. Please refer to the Income Attachment Notice for more information regarding income withholding orders.

If you are self-employed, you will continue to make your monthly support payments to PA SCDU and will receive monthly coupons from them to send with your payment. If you have a checking or savings account and would like to establish a regular, recurring withdrawal from that account to pay your support payment, you would need to establish an account with ExpertPay. There is no charge for payments sent to the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit (PA-SCDU). Once the account is established, please allow seven (7) days for the payment to be received by the PA-SCDU.'

Any defendant / obligor can make payments using a credit card (MC, Visa, Discover) by calling PA SCDU at 800-955-2305. You may also make payments online at www.e-childspay.com. Please note that a convenience fee is charged for all credit card payments.

Credit card payments can also be made at www.moneygram.com. A convenience fee is charged depending on the amount of payment. Cash payments can be made at MoneyGram kiosks located at select CVS, ACME, Walmart and Wegmans. A processing fee of $3.99 is charged. Payments are to be made to PA SCDU (code #14677).

You may visit your banking institution to establish electronic bill pay by presenting your 10 digit member identification number and providing your banking institution with the SCDU address: PA SCDU, PO Box 69110, Harrisburg, PA 17106.

Support payments made by check or money order must be made payable to PA SCDU and must be mailed to: PA SCDU P.O.Box 69110 Harrisburg, PA 17106-9110

To insure prompt and accurate processing, payments must include the defendant's / obligor’s PACSES Member Number (call DRS Customer Service if you need this information) or Social Security Number in order to be processed.

Please call DRS Customer Service at 717-299-8141 during business hours if you have any questions about how to make payments or need information on how to make cash payments.

What fees are charged?

Domestic Relations (DRS) charges fees based on the fee schedule issued by the Court.
In addition to fees charged by DRS, a $25 fee will be deducted from any collection sent to the plaintiff which has been received through the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. The U.S. Congress requires the collection of a $25 annual federal user fee for any child support case in which at least $500 in child support has been collected during the federal fiscal year (October 1 to September 30). In Pennsylvania, the state will pay this fee on cases in which the total collected is between $500 and $1,999.99. After $2,000 is collected, the fee will be deducted from the next payment received by the plaintiff. No payments are collected during the months of December, January, or February.

What services are available to the plaintiff / obligee?

Domestic Relations (DRS) provides the following services to plaintiffs:

While the DRS is unable to address issues pertaining to custody or visitation you may obtain information by visiting the Court Self Help Center

Application for Child Support Legal Services

What services are available to the defendant / obligor?

Domestic Relations (DRS) provides the following services to defendants:

  • Filing services – actions to pay support; modification and termination requests; recovery of a support overpayment
  • Genetic testing related to paternity establishment
  • Income withholding and recurring automatic support withdrawals from bank accounts to simplify support payments
  • Job search program
  • Multiple payment options
  • Collection of unreimbursed medical expenses Medical Support Policy Medical Enforcement Request Form - Defendant
While the DRS is unable to address issues pertaining to custody or visitation you may obtain information by visiting the Court Self Help Center

What if the defendant / obligor does not live in Lancaster County?

When the defendant / obligor resides in another county, state, or country, DRS employees will assist the filing party in determining whether a local support action can be filed consistent with the PA Rules of Civil Procedure and/or the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
If the support action must be filed to a jurisdiction other than Lancaster County, DRS employees will assist the filing party in completing the documents needed to initiate the support action in the appropriate county, state, tribal region, or country (the responding jurisdiction). In these types of support actions, the laws of the responding jurisdiction apply as it pertains to the establishment of a support order and any enforcement remedies available. In general, inter-jurisdictional support actions take longer than local support actions.

How do I contact Lancaster County Domestic Relations?

Domestic Relations (DRS) is open Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. During those hours, you can contact the office at 717-299-8141 and speak to a customer service representative or you can visit the office which is located at 150 N. Queen St., Lancaster, PA 17603.
DRS also has an automated voice response system that will allow you to leave a voicemail message for a customer service representative 24/7.
If you are a registered user of the Pennsylvania Child Support Program website, you can send an email message 24/7.

Do you have interpreters available?

For clients who do not speak English, Domestic Relations (DRS) utilizes a telephone interpreting service for a wide variety of languages at no cost to the DRS client. This service is available for use during scheduled conferences, during client visits or during any telephone contacts with the DRS when needed.
DRS will also make arrangements for an interpreter to appear at any scheduled Court hearings if it is known that an interpreter is needed. If you are scheduled for a hearing and need an interpreter, please notify DRS as soon as possible. This service is also provided at no cost to the DRS client.
For any client who is hearing impaired and in need of an American Sign Language interpreter for a DRS conference or hearing, the client should complete the Request for Reasonable Accommodation Form. Forms should be sent to Court of Common Pleas ADA Coordinator. Once request is granted, the Request for Reasonable Accommodation will carry over for any future appointments. This service is also provided at no cost to the DRS client.

Can I participate in the conference / hearing by telephone?

Rule 1930.3 of the PA Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to participate in a domestic relations proceeding by telephone, audiovisual or other electronic means “with the approval of the court upon good cause shown.” The intent of this rule is to make it possible for a party to provide information and hear information presented by the other party during support conferences or hearings when attending in person would be a hardship.
To request the approval of the court, the party who wants to participate by telephone should complete and submit the Telephone Testimony Request Form to domestic relations as soon as the notice to appear is received, but at least three business days prior to the scheduled conference or hearing.
If a request for telephone testimony is approved by the court, both parties in the support action will be notified. The party who is participating by telephone is responsible to mail or fax copies of all required information (such as pay stubs, tax returns, income / expense sheets, etc.) prior to the scheduled conference or hearing.
A party who participates in a conference or hearing by telephone is expected to conduct themselves in the same manner as if they were presented in the conference room or courtroom and must be available without interruption throughout the entire proceeding.

How Do I get certification of overdue support obligations?

Pennsylvania enacted the real estate and personal property lien requirements of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 in Act 58 of 1987 with amendments to 23 Pa.C.S. §4352 (d). Effective January 1, 1998, overdue support on record at the Domestic Relations Section (DRS) became a lien by operation of law on real estate located within the judicial district where the DRS is located. Lien information is available on the Pennsylvania Child Support Program website.
If the search of the report provides, or appears to provide, a DRS defendant / obligor match it will be necessary for you to contact the DRS for a certification of overdue support obligation. To obtain the certification, please utilize the Request for Case Search Form . The completed certification form can be submitted by:

  1. Email attachment to Domestic Relations
  2. Fax to Domestic Relations at 717-293-7270
  3. Regular mail sent to: Domestic Relations P.O. Box 83479 Lancaster PA 17608-3479
Please allow at least 48 hours for the completion of the request.

I receive support, how do I close my case?

If you currently receive support and do not receive cash public assistance benefits you may request that your case be closed.  Complete the request for closure  click here and indicate if you wish for any current back support to be paid before the case is closed or if you wish for any support owed to be forgiven.