(a) General rule.–The court making an order of support shall at all times maintain jurisdiction of the matter for the purpose of enforcement of the order and for the purpose of increasing, decreasing, modifying or rescinding the order unless otherwise provided by Part VIII (relating to uniform interstate family support) or VIII-A (relating to intrastate family support) without limiting the right of the obligee, or the department if it has an assignment or other interest, to institute additional proceedings for support in any county in which the obligor resides or in which property of the obligor is situated. The Supreme Court shall by general rule establish procedures by which each interested party shall be notified of all proceedings in which support obligations might be established or modified and shall receive a copy of any order issued in a case within 14 days after issuance of such order. A petition for modification of a support order may be filed at any time and shall be granted if the requesting party demonstrates a substantial change in circumstances.
(a.1) Automatic review.–Upon request of either parent, or automatically if there is an assignment under Title IV-A of the Social Security Act (49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq.), each order of support shall be reviewed at least once every three years from the date of establishment or the most recent review. The review shall be for the purpose of making any appropriate increase, decrease, modification or rescission of the order. During the review, taking into the account the best interest of the child involved, the court shall adjust the order, without requiring proof of a change in circumstances, by applying the Statewide guidelines or a cost-of-living adjustment in accordance with a formula developed by general rule. Automated methods, including automated matches with wage or State income tax data, may be used to identify the support orders eligible for review and implement appropriate adjustments.
(a.2) Effect of incarceration.–Incarceration, except incarceration for nonpayment of support, shall constitute a material and substantial change in circumstance that may warrant modification or termination of an order of support where the obligor lacks verifiable income or assets sufficient to enforce and collect amounts due.
(b) Notice.–Each party subject to an automatic child support review shall receive:
(1) thirty days’ advance notice of the right of such party to request a review and adjustment of the order, except when the adjustment results from a cost-of-living adjustment or other automated adjustment;
(2) a copy of any order establishing, modifying or rescinding a child support obligation or, in the case of a denied petition for modification, a notice of determination that there should be no change in the amount of the child support order, within 14 days after issuance of such order or determination; and
(3) a 30-day period from the date of the notice of a cost-of-living adjustment or other automated adjustment to request an individual review and adjustment in accordance with the Statewide guideline.
(c) Transfer of action.–Where neither party to the action resides or is employed in the county wherein the support action was filed, the court may transfer the matter to any county wherein either party resides or where the defendant is regularly employed. If one of the parties resides outside of this Commonwealth, the action may be transferred to the county of residence or employment of the other party.
(d) Arrears as judgments.–On and after the date it is due, each and every support obligation shall constitute a judgment against the obligor by operation of law, with the full force, effect and attributes of a judgment of court, including the ability to be enforced, and shall be entitled as a judgment to full faith and credit in this or any other state. Overdue support obligations of this or any other state which are on record at the county domestic relations section shall constitute a lien by operation of law against all real property owned by the obligor within the county as provided in subsection (d.1). The department shall develop and implement a system for providing notice to the public of liens arising out of overdue support obligations. The system and its procedures shall ensure convenient access to lien information and shall address hours of access by the business community and the general public and access via modem or automated means. Thirty days after publication of notice in the Pennsylvania Bulletin that the system has been established, any lien on record shall constitute a lien against any real property in this Commonwealth owned by the obligor and shall also have the effect of a fully perfected security interest in personal property owned by the obligor in which a security interest can arise. The department shall consult with the Department of Transportation in the development of this system to enforce compliance with this subsection as it applies to liens on motor vehicles. The Supreme Court shall by general rule establish procedures for the recording of liens of other states at the county domestic relations section and for the enforcement of liens arising from overdue support without prior judicial notice or hearing. A bona fide good faith purchaser of personal property for value which is subject to a lien under this subsection acquires all title which the transferor had or had the power to transfer pursuant to 13 Pa.C.S. Ch. 24 (relating to title, creditors and good faith purchasers), and the obligee shall have all rights against such property which would be preserved to a fully perfected secured creditor under 13 Pa.C.S. Div. 9 (relating to secured transactions; sales of accounts, contract rights and chattel paper). The obligation for payment of arrears or overdue support shall terminate by operation of law when all arrears or overdue support has been paid.
(d.1) Real property liens.–
(1) Overdue support shall be a lien on real estate within the county in which the overdue support is on record at the county domestic relations section if:
(i) the underlying support action is pending in the county domestic relations section or is being enforced by the county domestic relations section;
(ii) notice of the existence of the support action is available to the public through a docket book or automated means; and
(iii) the county domestic relations section is able to determine the amount of overdue support by reference to its records and is able to provide the amount of the overdue support upon request.
(2) The priority and amount of a lien for overdue support shall be determined as follows:
(i) The date of the lien for purposes of determining priority shall be determined separately for each unpaid overdue support payment. The date shall be the later of:
(A) the date the obligor obtains a real property interest which may be subject to a lien;
(B) the date the overdue support becomes a lien under paragraph (1); or
(C) January 1, 1998.
(ii) The amount of the lien on any date shall be the amount of overdue support shown on that date in the records of the domestic relations section.
(3) Upon request of any person, the domestic relations section shall issue a written certification of the amount of overdue support owed by an individual as of the date of the certification and shall note on the docket the date of certification and the amount certified. The interests of any purchaser of real estate for value, mortgagee or other lienor that in good faith purchases the real estate or lends money on the security of the real estate and that records, within 30 days before or 60 days after the date of issuance of a certificate under this paragraph, a deed, mortgage or other encumbrance against the real estate shall not be subject to any lien for overdue support in excess of the amount shown on the certification.
(4) The amount of overdue support owed by an obligor and the name of the obligor shall be public information and shall be deemed a public record subject to the act of June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-Know Law.
(5) A lien arising from overdue support:
(i) shall automatically attach to after-acquired property owned by the obligor;
(ii) shall retain its priority without renewal or revival;
(iii) shall continue to encumber the property upon sale or other transfer;
(iv) shall not be divested upon a judicial sale or execution by a person with a lien with less priority;
(v) shall not attach to the interest of any other co-owner in the property;
(vi) shall expire 20 years after the due date of the last unsatisfied overdue support payment; and
(vii) may be released by the court as against abandoned or distressed real property at the request of a governmental unit in order to facilitate the property’s sale and rehabilitation.
(6) The domestic relations section:
(i) shall satisfy the lien promptly upon payment but no later than 60 days following receipt of the payment;
(ii) may charge a fee not to exceed the lesser of its estimated cost of producing the report or $20 for the issuance of a lien certification or other written report of the overdue support obligations of an obligor;
(iii) shall provide to the prothonotary of the county the identity of obligors and amount of overdue support to be used to make the information available to the public. The information shall be updated at least monthly and shall be provided by a paper listing, diskette or any other electronic means until the Statewide system under subsection (d) is implemented; and
(iv) shall transmit at least every 60 days to credit bureaus directly or through the department reports and updates regarding the liens for overdue support.
(7) The domestic relations section or employees thereof shall not be liable for errors in the certification of amounts of overdue support or satisfaction of liens for overdue support except as provided in 42 Pa.C.S. § 8550 (relating to willful misconduct).
(8) Support may cease to be overdue if a revised payment schedule is established by the court, but any lien which has previously arisen against real estate shall remain in effect until paid or divested.
(9) Notwithstanding paragraphs (2) and (3), the interests of any person who recorded a deed, mortgage or other instrument creating an interest in or lien against real estate on or after January 1, 1998, and before the effective date of this subsection shall not be subject to a lien for any overdue support accruing on or after the date the deed, mortgage or other instrument creating the interest or lien was recorded.
(e) Retroactive modification of arrears.–No court shall modify or remit any support obligation, on or after the date it is due, except with respect to any period during which there is pending a petition for modification. If a petition for modification was filed, modification may be applied to the period beginning on the date that notice of such petition was given, either directly or through the appropriate agent, to the obligee or, where the obligee was the petitioner, to the obligor. However, modification may be applied to an earlier period if the petitioner was precluded from filing a petition for modification by reason of a significant physical or mental disability, misrepresentation of another party or other compelling reason and if the petitioner, when no longer precluded, promptly filed a petition. In the case of an emancipated child, arrears shall not accrue from and after the date of the emancipation of the child for whose support the payment is made.
(f) Foreign support orders.–(Deleted by amendment).
(g) Notice to obligors and obligees.–The domestic relations section shall mail notice to obligors and obligees of existing orders informing them that such orders may attain the status of a judgment by operation of law. The notice shall explain the nature of a judgment by operation of law and its effect. Further, the notice shall advise each party to a support proceeding of the party’s duty to advise the domestic relations section of material changes in circumstance and of the necessity to promptly request a modification as soon as circumstances change.
(g.1) Nondisclosure of certain information.–If the court finds in an ex parte or other proceeding or if an existing order provides that the health, safety or liberty of a party or child would be unreasonably put at risk by the disclosure of identifying information, the court shall order that the address of the child or party or other identifying information not be disclosed in a pleading or other document filed in a proceeding under this part. Any court order under this subsection must be docketed in the domestic relations section.
(g.2) Work activities.–If an obligor owes overdue support with respect to any child receiving cash or medical assistance, the court shall upon motion of the department or domestic relations section order that overdue support be paid in accordance with a plan approved by the court or that the obligor participate in work activities approved by the department. Work activities include:
(1) Subsidized or unsubsidized public or private sector employment.
(2) Work experience programs.
(3) Work training programs.
(4) Community service programs.
(5) Job search requirements.
(6) Job readiness programs.
(7) Education directly related to employment.
(8) Attendance at secondary school.
(9) For a person who has not graduated high school, study leading to a high school diploma or equivalent.
(g.3) Fraudulent transfers.–The court may void any fraudulent transfer by the obligor pursuant to 12 Pa.C.S. Ch. 51 (relating to fraudulent transfers). It shall be a rebuttable presumption that a transfer by an obligor is fraudulent as to an obligee if the transfer was made for less than reasonably equivalent value and the transfer occurred after the initiation of a proceeding to establish or enforce support.
(h) Applicability.–This section applies to all support orders whether entered under this chapter or any other statute.
(Mar. 25, 1988, P.L.296, No.35, eff. imd.; Dec. 20, 1989, P.L.654, No.81, eff. imd.; Apr. 4, 1996, P.L.58, No.20, eff. imd.; Dec. 16, 1997, P.L.549, No.58, eff. Jan. 1, 1998; Dec. 15, 1998, P.L.963, No.127, eff. imd.; May 13, 2008, P.L.144, No.16, eff. imd.)
2008 Amendment. Act 16 amended subsec. (a.1) and added subsec. (a.2), retroactive to March 31, 2008.
1998 Amendment. Act 127 amended subsec. (d) and added subsec. (d.1). Section 15 of Act 127 provided that nothing in Act 127 shall impair the priority or validity of any lien recorded prior to the effective date of Act 127. 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. (a), (b) and (d) and added subsecs. (a.1), (g.1), (g.2) and (g.3). 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.
1996 Amendment. Act 20 amended subsec. (a) and deleted subsec. (f).
Suspension by Court Rule. Section 4352(d) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(5), as amended May 31, 2000, insofar as it is inconsistent with Rule 1910.22 providing that overdue support on public record at the domestic relations section constitutes a lien of record against all real property within the state of Pennsylvania which is owned by the obligor.
Section 4352(d.1) was suspended by Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure No. 1910.50(6), as amended May 31, 2000, only insofar as subsection (d.1)(1) provides that the underlying support action shall either be pending at the county domestic relations section or shall be enforced by the county domestic relations section in order for a lien to arise to arise against real property located in that county.
References in Text. Division 9 of Title 13, referred to in subsec. (d), was repealed and added by the act of June 8, 2001 (P.L.123, No.18). Present Division 9 relates to secured transactions.
The act of June 21, 1957 (P.L.390, No.212), referred to as the Right-to-Know Law, referred to in subsec. (d.1)(4), was repealed by the act of February 14, 2008 (P.L.6, No.3), known as the Right-to-Know Law.