When parents separate, it’s easy to assume that creating a parenting plan will be all you need to transition your family from one household to two. No parent plans to shirk their parental responsibilities, but life can throw roadblocks in our way leading to serious financial setbacks. It’s important to act immediately when you realize you may not be able to meet the requirements of your parenting plan, support obligations, or custody situation.
The Dead Beat Parent Laws for Pennsylvania punish parents who:
- Owe more than three months of back child support
- Fail to adhere to a custody order
- Fail to adhere to a partial custody order
- Fail to obey warrants, subpoenas, and child support orders in Pennsylvania
Child Support License Suspensions in Pennsylvania
Once a parent meets any of the above criteria, it will trigger PennDOT notification. The parent in question will receive notification of a pending suspension of their driver’s license for an indefinite period.
According to Pennsylvania law, Section 4355, driver’s license suspensions for failure to pay child support are outlined in the law as follows:
§ 4355. Denial or suspension of licenses.
(a) General rule.--Except as provided in subsection (d.1), where the domestic relations section or the department has been unable to attach the income of an obligor, and the obligor owes support in an amount equal to or greater than three months of the monthly support obligation or where an individual has failed to comply with a visitation or partial custody order pursuant to section 4346 (relating to contempt for noncompliance with visitation or partial custody order), or an individual has failed, after appropriate notice, to comply with subpoenas or warrants relating to paternity or child support proceedings, the court, the domestic relations section or the department shall issue an order directing any licensing authority to:
(1) prohibit the issuance or renewal of a license of the obligor or other individual; or
(2) require the suspension of the license of the obligor or other individual.
To restore driving privileges, the parent would need to satisfy their child support obligation and pay a restoration fee to PennDot.
Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act
In addition to PennDOT driving suspension, Pennsylvania also has the Child Support Recovery Act (CSRA), which makes the failure to pay past-due child support obligations to another state while residing in Pennsylvania a federal misdemeanor offense. The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act (DDPA) is the update to the CRSA. The updated law elevates child support evasion to a felony charge. Parents who leave the state to avoid child support debts that are more than a year old and in excess of $5000 are left vulnerable to charges. The penalties increase if the debt is $10,000 or more with two years of debt evasion. Parents face two years in prison, fines, and restitution. The consequences for failure to pay child support obligations are serious crimes in almost every state.
In addition to penalties and fines, debt evasion can also lead to:
- Wage Garnishment
- Account Seizures
- Tax Offsets
- Lottery Offsets
- Driver’s License Suspension
What to Do if You Can’t Meet Your Child Support Obligations
Parents who have problems meeting their obligations must ask the court for a modification as soon as possible because letting the situation spiral out of control is certain to make it more difficult to correct later. Parents with a standing parenting plan are at the mercy of their custody agreement until a modification hearing has occurred and changes filed with the court. For parents who are currently considering a divorce, it’s important that you take child custody issues seriously as you’re creating parenting plans and custody agreements. Pennsylvania has very strict Dead Beat Parent laws. Failure to meet court-ordered parental obligations will result in severe penalties.
Call us today at (888) 863-9115 to schedule a consultation, or you can use our online contact form to request more information.