An Overview of Pennsylvania’s Back Child Support Laws

Each state has different laws protecting custodial parents who don’t receive child support payments on time. Here’s everything you need to know about back child support laws in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, a parent must pay back child support if they refuse to send in monthly child support payments. Failure to pay back child support may result in wage garnishment, property liens, seizure of bank accounts, or temporary imprisonment.

What is back child support?

Back child support, also known as “retroactive child support” and “child support arrears,” refers to the accrued amount of a parent’s missed child support payments. The court commonly adds back child support payments to the monthly amount of regular child support payments. Parents who fail to pay back child support may face significant penalties.

Related: Pennsylvania Child Custody FAQs

Paying Back Child Support in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, back child support accrues when a custodial parent applies for child support. For example, a parent may have to pay two months’ worth of back child support if there was a two month waiting period between the submission of the child support application and the court hearing. A court may waive back child support if both parents agree it’s unnecessary.

A parent can expect to pay back child support in a single payment or in installment payments. Pennsylvania judges consider the paying parent’s financial situation when determining how the paying parent will pay back child support.

Related: Dividing Property in a Pennsylvania Divorce

Penalties for Missed Back Child Support Payments

Pennsylvania judges may issue the following penalties to parents who fail or refuse to pay back child support payments:

  • Wage garnishment, or the allocation of the parent at fault’s wages toward back child support payments
  • Property liens, or a public record of the at-fault parent’s debt
  • Bank account(s) seizure
  • Civil contempt, or imprisonment until the at-fault parent pays off the missed payments

FAQs About Back Child Support Laws in Pennsylvania

How much do back child support payments cost in Pennsylvania?

Back child support payments are equivalent to the court-ordered child support payment amount. Parents paying back child support should visit the Pennsylvania Child Support Estimator for an estimate of how much they may have to pay.

Does interest accrue on back child support?

Interest doesn’t accrue on back child support payments in Pennsylvania.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about child support laws in Pennsylvania, get your free consultation with one of our child support attorneys today!