Rule 1910.25. Enforcement. Support Order. Civil Contempt. Petition. Service. No Answer Required.
(a) Upon failure to comply with an order of support, a petition for civil contempt
(1) may be filed by the obligee at any time, or
(2) shall be filed by the domestic relations section
(i) immediately upon the accrual of arrearages in any amount for fifteen days where it is known at the outset that income cannot be attached; or
(ii) immediately upon learning that an order for income withholding pursuant to Rule 1910.21 has been ineffective, or within twenty days of failure to comply with the order of support, whichever is earlier.
Except as provided in 23 Pa.C.S. § 4355 relating to suspension of licenses, an order entered pursuant to a contempt proceeding which establishes a rate of repayment on overdue support does not preclude the use of other remedies under Title 23 or these Rules for collecting overdue support more quickly, whenever feasible.
(b) The petition shall begin with an order of court in substantially the following form:
ORDER OF COURT
Legal proceedings have been brought against you alleging that you have disobeyed an order of court for support.
(1) A critical issue in the contempt proceeding is your ability to pay and comply with the terms of the support order. If you wish to defend against the claim set forth in the following pages, you may, but are not required to, file in writing with the court your defenses or objections.
, Respondent, must appear in person
in court on
(day and date) at
(a.m./p.m.) in (court) room
IF YOU DO NOT APPEAR IN PERSON,
THE COURT MAY
ISSUE A WARRANT FOR YOUR ARREST
AND YOU MAY BE COMMITTED TO JAIL.
(3) If the court finds that you have willfully failed to comply with its order for support, you may be found to be in contempt of court and committed to jail, fined or both.
You will have the opportunity to disclose income, other financial information and any relevant personal information at the conference/hearing so that the court can determine if you have the ability to pay. You may also tell the court about any unusual expenses that may affect your ability to pay. You may fill out the enclosed Income Statement and Expense Statement forms and submit them to the court.
At the conference/hearing, the contempt petition may be dismissed, new and/or modified purge conditions may be imposed, or the judge may order you to jail. If the obligee fails to appear, the court will proceed with the case and enter an appropriate order.
YOU ARE REQUIRED TO BRING:
Your most recent pay stub for any and all employers
Payroll address, phone number, fax number and contact person
Proof of medical coverage
Any other documentation relevant to your case and the issue of contempt as stated in the petition, including the completed Income Statement and Expense Statement forms. For example, other documentation that may be relevant includes documents related to claims for unemployment compensation, workers compensation and Social Security benefits.
BY THE COURT:
DATE OF ORDER:
YOU SHOULD TAKE THIS PAPER TO YOUR LAWYER AT ONCE. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A LAWYER, GO TO OR TELEPHONE THE OFFICE SET FORTH BELOW. THIS OFFICE CAN PROVIDE YOU WITH INFORMATION ABOUT HIRING A LAWYER. IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO HIRE A LAWYER, THIS OFFICE MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE YOU WITH INFORMATION ABOUT AGENCIES THAT MAY OFFER LEGAL SERVICES TO ELIGIBLE PERSONS AT A REDUCED FEE OR NO FEE.
Neither Rule 1018.1 (Notice to Defend) nor Rule 1361 (Notice to Plead) apply to a petition for enforcement of support.
(c) The petition shall aver the facts alleged to constitute the failure to comply with the support order. The petition shall set forth the amount of support arrearages, if any, as provided by the domestic relations section. Unless specially ordered by the court, no answer to the petition is required.
(d) The petition shall be served upon the respondent
(1) by ordinary mail with the return address of the domestic relations section appearing thereon; or
(2) by any form of mail which requires the respondent to sign a receipt; or
(3) by a competent adult; or
See Rule 76 for the definition of competent adult.
(4) pursuant to special order of court. A respondent who attends the conference and/or hearing in person shall be deemed to have been served.
(e) The court may issue a bench warrant as provided by Rule 1910.13-1 for failure of the respondent to appear.
(f) The respondent shall be advised in the Order/Notice to Appear that his or her present ability to pay is a critical issue in the contempt proceeding. The respondent shall be provided with Income and Expense Statements to demonstrate financial ability to pay. At the hearing, the respondent shall be provided the opportunity to respond to any questions about his or her financial status. The trier of fact shall issue an express finding that the respondent does or does not have the present ability to pay.
The amendments to the form in subdivision (b) and new subdivision (f) are intended to assure compliance with the U.S. Supreme Courts decision in Turner v. Rogers, 131 S. Ct. 2507 (2011). In that case, the Court held that counsel need not automatically be appointed for indigent support obligors facing incarceration in civil contempt proceedings. The Court held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not require that counsel be provided where the obligee is not represented by counsel and the state provides alternative procedural safeguards including adequate notice of the importance of the ability to pay, a fair opportunity to present, and to dispute, relevant information, and express court findings as to the obligors ability to pay.
The provisions of this Rule 1910.25 amended May 31, 2000, effective July 1, 2000, 30 Pa.B. 3155; amended March 18, 2004, effective June 16, 2004, 34 Pa.B. 1754; amended November 30, 2012, effective December 30, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 7521. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (303570) and (328351).
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