Rule 1910.21. Support Order. Enforcement. Withholding of Income.
(a) Immediate Income Withholding. Every order of court shall contain an immediate order for the withholding of income unless (1) there is no overdue support owing under the order and (2) either the court finds there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding or the parties agree in writing to an alternative arrangement.
(b) Initiated Income Withholding. If there is no immediate income withholding pursuant to subdivision (a), and nonpayment of the support order causes overdue support to accrue, the court shall enter an order for the immediate withholding of income.
(c) Order for Withholding. An order for income withholding must include a provision directing that no commutation or compromise and release of workers compensation benefits, severance pay or any payment in lieu thereof shall be paid to the defendant until the order for withholding is dissolved by further order of court.
(d) Service on Employer.
(1) The order for income withholding shall be served upon the obligors employer. The employer shall pay to the State Collection and Disbursement Unit the full amount set forth in the order and may deduct from the balance due the obligor an amount authorized by law for clerical work and expense involved in complying with the order. Upon termination of the obligors employment, the employer shall notify the domestic relations section of the termination, the obligors last known address, and the name and address of the obligors new employer, if known.
(2) Upon willful failure to obey an order for income withholding, the employer, or an officer or employee of the employer, may be held in contempt and subject to other remedies provided by law.
23 Pa.C.S. § 4348(k)(1) provides that contempt is punishable by jail or fine. 23 Pa.C.S. § 4348(k)(2) provides that the employer is liable for any amount which the employer willfully fails to withhold or for any amount withheld but not forwarded to the domestic relations section. 23 Pa.C.S. § 4348(k)(3) provides that the court may attach funds or property of an employer.
(e) Notice to Obligor. Objections. A notice of entry of an order for income withholding shall be served on the obligor. The obligor may object to the order in writing or by personal appearance before the county domestic relations section within ten days after issuance of the notice. The grounds for an objection are limited to the following mistakes of fact: (i) no overdue support exists under the order or there is a mistake in the amount of overdue support; (ii) there is a mistake in the identity of the obligor; or (iii) the amount being withheld exceeds the maximum amount which may be withheld under the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1673. If a mistake of fact has occurred, the order shall be modified accordingly.
(f) Income Withholding When the Obligor Defaults on Support Order.
(1) When an obligor is subject to an order for income withholding and payment is received from the employer within 15 days from the date upon which the obligors obligation would be considered overdue (i.e. the date upon which delinquent support is equal to one months support obligation), the payment shall be considered timely and any past due support shall not be converted to overdue support or subject to automated enforcement mechanisms.
(2) When nonpayment of the support order by the obligor causes overdue support to accrue, the court may increase the order for income withholding until the overdue support is paid in full. The court may also direct the employer to withhold any periodic or lump sum distributions of income which may be payable to the obligor in addition to regular income until further order of court.
(g) Priority of Income Withholding. If there are multiple support obligations in effect against the income of the obligor, the court shall allocate among the obligees the amount of income available for withholding, giving priority to current child support, child support-related expenses and child support arrears to the limit provided by law and stating the priority of payment to the obligee.
(h) Termination of Order for Income Withholding. An order for income withholding shall continue until dissolved by the court as provided by law.
Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 4348(h), an order for income withholding may be terminated when (1) the support obligation has terminated and the total arrears are paid; (2) the payee cannot be located and it becomes impossible to forward payments; or (3) the result would be unconscionable. The order may also be terminated administratively by the domestic relations section.
New subdivision 1910.21(f)(1) is intended to address circumstances in which an employer timely withholds income from an obligor pursuant to an income withholding order, but a delay occurs in receipt of the funds by the State Collection and Disbursement Unit. In those cases, it would be inappropriate to consider the obligors payment as untimely and convert past due support to overdue support because an obligor subject to an income withholding order has no control over the timing of the transmission of the funds from the employer. This new rule addreses solely timing issues by providing a 15-day grace period. It does not apply to obligors who are not subject to an order for income withholding.
The provisions of this Rule 1910.21 amended November 7, 1988, effective January 1, 1989, 18 Pa.B. 5326; rescinded March 30, 1994, effective July 1, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 1949; amended May 31, 2000, effective July 1, 2000, 30 Pa.B. 3155; amended August 13, 2008, effective immediately, 38 Pa.B. 4735; amended August 13, 2008, effective October 12, 2008, 35 Pa.B. 4736. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (319383) to (319384) and (267747).
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