The biological parents have a responsibility to support their children and their spouse. Child support and spousal support matters are handled by the Domestic Relations Office. To begin a claim for support, a person needs to complete and file a Petition with the Domestic Relations Office. The required forms are available in their office.
A conference before a Hearing Officer is then scheduled to discuss the earnings and expenses of the parties and to determine the financial responsibility of each party. When one party is unemployed or under employed, they will often be attributed with an earning capacity by the Hearing Officer and the support obligation will be determined from that amount. The amount of support is calculated from the total earnings of both parties.
The support calculations are taken from the Basic Child Support Schedule used throughout the state and are a percentage of the parties’ total income. The Hearing Office determines the amount of support owed and the Court will issue an Order to garnishee that amount from that person’s paycheck. Within ten days of the decision, either party may appeal the matter to the Court of Common Pleas.
Spousal support is also determined by the Domestic Relations Office using the same Petition forms and hearing procedure as for child support. Where both child and spousal support are requested, the hearing for both is held at the same time. A different calculation based on the same income data from child support is used. NOTE: Spousal support may be awarded as long as the parties are married. When the marriage is terminated there is no longer an obligation for spousal support.