Each time a child enters placement, whether voluntarily or by Court order, the agency is required to file a complaint for support through the Domestic Relations Office. Once the complaint is filed, notices are sent to the parents, ordering each of them to appear for a support conference.
Who has to pay child support?
When will the conference be scheduled?
Agency conferences are held in the Domestic Relations Office one day per month, in a round-robin format. Approximately 75 cases are scheduled for each agency day. Parties will be seen on a first come, first serve basis therefore there may be a wait to be seen.
How is the child support determined?
Federal law requires each state to adopt Child Support guidelines. Under the Pennsylvania guidelines, both parents are responsible for the costs of raising their child(ren). The amount that each parent must contribute is calculated based on each parent's income. The guidelines take into account the costs of raising a child and other support obligations.
What if I disagree with the amount I am required to pay?
If an agreement is not reached at the conference, a hearing will be scheduled. The officer may enter a temporary Order called an Interim Order, so support is paid until the case is resolved. The case is then scheduled to be heard by a Support Master.
What if my circumstances have changed since the child support order was entered?
Whenever there is a change in circumstance after the order is entered, a Petition to Modify can be filed to have the Order reviewed. This paperwork is available in our Docketing Division on the Domestic Relations Website.
How long do I have to pay support to the agency?
Child support does not automatically stop. In Pennsylvania, support stops when a child is emancipated (self-supporting), which is usually when the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school, whichever occurs last. However, when a child is in the physical care of an agency, the agency can collect support from both parents until the child reaches the age of 21 if the child remains in care.
Once the child is released from the agency, a termination order is mailed to you to sign and return. If you are in agreement with the order, you must sign and return it to the Domestic Relations Office. In order for support to cease, both the agency and defendant must sign the Order of Court. If you do not agree with the provisions of the Order, you must file a Petition to Modify to stop the Order.
What if I am already paying support for this child?
If you are a plaintiff receiving support for the child in care, contact the Domestic Relations Office to remove the child from your support order. If you are a defendant paying support, you will need to file a Petition to Modify to have the Order modified or terminated. *Your current order will not be automatically terminated.*
What do I need to bring with me to the conference?
- Copy of identification (driver's license, photo id, etc.)
- Social Security Card
- Birth Certificates for all children
- Medical Insurance Cards
- Completed Income & Expense sheet provided to you with your Order to appear for the conference
- Copies of your last 6 months pay stubs and last tax return
- Verification of any other source of income, including welfare benefits, SSI, SSD, unemployment benefits, and workman's compensation
- Medical documentation, if unable to work due to a medical condition
- Paperwork from the agency regarding family reconciliation conditions
If your child goes into agency care and you have any additional questions about the child support obligation, please contact the Domestic Relations Office at (610) 478-2900.
Domestic Relations Office Contact Information:
Berks County Domestic Relations Office
Berks County Services Center
633 Court St, 6th Floor
Reading, PA 19601