(a) Existing and certain future orders.–All orders of support existing as of the effective date of this provision, as well as all orders of support entered or modified after the effective date of this provision but before June 30, 1990, shall provide for mandatory attachment of income:
(1) if the obligor is in arrears in payment in an amount equal to or greater than one month’s support obligation;
(2) at the request of the obligor;
(3) at the request of the obligee; or
(4) as of July 1, 1991, except as provided by subsection (b)(1) and (2).
(b) Future orders.–All orders of support entered or modified on or after July 1, 1990, shall, as part of the order, provide for the mandatory attachment of income unless:
(1) the obligor is not in arrears in payment in an amount equal to or greater of one month’s support obligation; and
(2) (i) one of the parties demonstrates, and the court finds, that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding; or
(ii) a written agreement is reached between the parties which provides for an alternative arrangement.
The court may, on its own motion, order the attachment of the obligor’s income where the court has a reasonable basis to believe the obligor will not comply with the order of support. In making this determination, the court may consider evidence of the person’s previous violations of orders entered in any jurisdiction or evidence that the obligor has attempted to conceal income or to transfer, convey or encumber property in order to reduce the obligor’s support obligation. Attachment shall occur under this subsection without amendment to the order of support and, if arrearages occur, without the need for a judicial or administrative hearing.
(c) Assessment of penalty.–The court may impose a penalty of not more than 10% on any amount in arrears for 30 days or more if the court determines that the arrearage was willful.
(d) Arrearages.–If support arrearages exist at the time of the entry of the order, the order shall specify all of the following:
(1) To whom an arrearage is owed and the amount of the arrearage.
(2) The period of time for which the arrearage is calculated.
(3) The amount of periodic support to be applied to current support and the amount to be applied to arrearages.
(4) If support arrearages are owed to more than one obligee, how payments are to be divided and in which priority.
(5) A direction that all payments are to be credited to current support obligations first, with any payment in excess to be applied to arrearages.
(d.1) Insurance.–If an obligor or obligee is in violation of an order under section 4326(j)(3) (relating to mandatory inclusion of child medical support), the attachment shall be in favor of the appropriate provider of health care coverage.
(e) Attachment process.–
(1) The obligor shall be given notice of the attachment of his income. Such notice shall specify all of the following:
(i) The amount to be withheld on account of current support and on account of arrears.
(ii) That the order of attachment shall apply to current and future employers.
(iii) That the grounds for contesting the order of attachment shall be limited to mistakes of fact. Mistakes of fact shall be limited to errors in the amount of current support owed, errors in the amount of arrearage, an attachment in excess of the maximum amount set forth in subsection (g) or mistaken identity of the obligor.
(iv) That attachment has occurred or shall occur in all cases within ten days of the issuance of the notice.
(v) A notice of how and when the order may be contested.
(2) To contest the order, the obligor must appear before the domestic relations section no later than ten days after issuance of the notice, at which time it will be determined if a mistake of fact has occurred. If so, the order shall be modified accordingly.
(f) Request of obligor.–The court shall also order the attachment of income where the obligor so requests.
(g) Maximum amount.–The maximum amount of any attachment under this section shall not exceed the limits set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (Public Law 90-321, 15 U.S.C. § 1601 et seq.).
(h) Termination.–The court may order the termination of an order of attachment in any of the following instances:
(1) The support obligation has terminated and the total arrearages are paid.
(2) Where the payee cannot be located and it becomes impossible to forward payments.
(3) The result would be unconscionable.
(i) Notice to employer.–The employer of an obligor shall be given notice of the attachment as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing support. This notice shall include reference to subsections (g), (k), (l), (n) and (o) and all of the following:
(1) The amount to be attached.
(2) That the attachment shall be implemented as soon as possible and no later than 14 days from the issuance of the notice to the employer.
(3) That the attachment payment must be sent to the domestic relations section or State disbursement unit, as appropriate, within seven business days of the date the obligor is paid.
(4) That the attachment order is binding upon the employer until further notice.
(5) That the employer may combine attachment payments into a single payment to the domestic relations section and separately identify the portions attributable to each obligor.
(6) That the employer must notify the domestic relations section when the obligor terminates employment and provide his last known address and the new employer’s name and address, if known.
(j) Effect of compliance by employer.–Compliance by an employer with an order of attachment of income that is regular on its face operates as a discharge of the civil liability of the employer to the obligor as to that portion of the employment income of the obligor affected. An employer shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability to any individual or agency for conduct in compliance with the order. The employer may deduct from the income of the obligor 2% of the amount paid under the order for reimbursement of the expense in complying with the order. In no case shall the employer’s reimbursement be deducted from the amount of the support order.
(k) Effect of noncompliance by employer.–
(1) An employer or officer or employee thereof who willfully fails to comply with an order of attachment under this chapter may, as prescribed by general rule, be adjudged in contempt and committed to jail or fined by the court.
(2) The employer shall be liable for any amount the employer willfully fails to withhold from income due an employee under an order of attachment of income and any amount which is withheld from such income but not forwarded to the domestic relations office.
(3) The court may, pursuant to general rule, attach funds or property of an employer.
(l) Disciplinary action by employer prohibited.–
(1) When an order of attachment on income withholding is about to be or has been entered, an employer or officer or employee thereof shall not use the attachment or possibility thereof as a basis, in whole or in part, for the refusal to employ or for the discharge of an employee or for any disciplinary action against or demotion of an employee. In case of a violation of this subsection, the employer or officer or employee thereof may be adjudged in contempt and committed to jail or fined by the court.
(2) Any employee aggrieved by a violation of this subsection shall have the substantive right to bring an action for damages by reason of such violation in a court of competent jurisdiction.
(3) The department or a domestic relations section may impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation against any employer that willfully violates the provisions of this subsection or that willfully fails to withhold income or to pay such amounts to the State disbursement unit.
(m) Certify income.–Upon request of the domestic relations section, the employer shall report and certify the income of an employee.
(n) Bonding.–The court may attach forms of income other than wages, assets, including spendthrift trusts, and private, public, State, county and municipal pensions, and include bonding or other requirements in cases involving obligors whose income is from sources other than wages, in order to assure that support owed by obligors in this Commonwealth will be collected without regard to the types of these obligors’ income or the nature of their income-producing activities.
(o) Priority of attachment.–(Deleted by amendment).
(p) Nonresidents.–Income attachment shall be available to obligees residing outside this Commonwealth where the income of the obligor is derived in this Commonwealth.
(q) Priority of attachment.–An order of attachment for support shall have priority over any attachment, execution, garnishment or wage assignment. The Supreme Court shall by general rule provide for priorities for withholding and allocating income withheld for multiple child support obligees received by an employer for the same obligor under this section and Chapter 75 (relating to direct enforcement of order of another state without registration).
(r) Information requests.–
(1) Upon the request of the department, a county domestic relations section or a child support agency of another state, any employer doing business within this Commonwealth, including a for-profit, not-for-profit or governmental employer, shall promptly provide information regarding the employment, compensation and benefits of any employee or contractor of the employer.
(2) In addition to any other remedy allowed by law, the department may impose a civil penalty of up to $1,000 per violation on an individual or entity that willfully fails to comply with a request for information under paragraph (1).
(Dec. 20, 1989, P.L.654, No.81, eff. imd.; Dec. 4, 1992, P.L.757, No.114, eff. 90 days; Oct. 16, 1996, P.L.706, No.124, eff. 60 days; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Dec. 15, 1998, P.L.963, No.127, eff. imd.)
1998 Amendment. Act 127 added subsec. (r). Act 127 of 1998 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.
1997 Amendment. Act 58 amended subsecs. (b), (e)(1) intro. par., (i) and (iv) and (2), (i)(3), (j) and (l)(1), deleted by amendment subsec. (o) and added subsecs. (l)(3) and (q). Act 58 of 1997 was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(3), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule No.1910.20 relating to the availability of remedies for collection of past due and overdue support.
1992 Amendment. Act 114 added subsec. (d.1). Section 4(2) of Act 114 provided that subsec. (d.1) shall apply to support orders entered prior to the effective date of Act 114.
1989 Amendment. Act 81 amended subsecs. (a) and (b).