Support conference matters are handled in the part of the Court of Common Pleas called the Domestic Relations Section.  Complaints for support are filed with the Domestic Relations Office, which handles issues associated with support for spouses and children as well as temporary alimony (also known as alimony pendente lite). 

Support Conference Preparation

After you receive notice of a Support Conference, you should provide the following information (to the extent it is applicable to your situation) at least seven (7) days prior to the Conference:

  • A copy of your most recent pay stub, if the pay stub states your current and year-to-date income.  If your pay stub does not state your income “year-to-date”, you will need to provide copies of your pay stubs for the previous six (6) months.
  • A copy of your most recent Federal Income Tax Return, complete with all W-2’s, 1099’s, Schedules, and Attachments.
  • Verification of the cost of health insurance, if the cost is not stated on your pay stub.
  • Verification of the cost of child care, private school, etc.  This could be in the form of a handwritten statement from the child care provider, cancelled checks, brochures, or fee schedules from a child care center or a private school.
  • In some cases, you may be requested to complete an Income and Expense Statement.

Support Conference Procedure

In Lancaster County, Support Conferences are conducted by employees of the Domestic Relations Office known as Conference Officers.  They are not attorneys, nor are they Judges, but in most cases, they are quite knowledgeable.  Support Conferences are held by telephone, with both parties and their attorneys participating in the call.  During the Conference, the Conference Officer may give you an estimate of the amount of support required by Pennsylvania law.  At that point, you may then either negotiate and agree to a different number, enter into an agreement for the amount required by Pennsylvania law, or ask the Conference Officer to make a recommendation. 

If the Conference Officer makes a Recommendation, he/she will prepare a Summary and Report which will contain a recommended amount of support, and a Judge will review it and make it an Order of Court.  It may take up to three (3) weeks after the Conference to receive the recommended Order.  If either party disagrees with the recommended Order, that party has twenty (20) days to file an Appeal, or “Exceptions”, and request a “De Novo” Hearing before a Judge.  In most cases, the Hearing Officer’s recommendation is correct and it will not be beneficial or advantageous to file an Appeal.  

Complex Support Issues

In some rare cases, the issue of support is determined to be “complex”.  If this occurs, the Conference Officer will prepare a Temporary Order and your case will be listed for a special Hearing before a Judge.   

Once a Support Order is issued by the Court, if the party who is obligated to pay support receives a regular paycheck, a Wage Attachment will be issued so that their paycheck can be garnished for the amount of support ordered by the Court. 

Getting Legal Help

When you are dealing with support orders and issues, it is recommended to obtain legal advice and help. The above article is in no way offered as legal advice. For personal help pertaining to your specific situation, call our team of expert attorneys today. You don’t have to figure this out alone, the professionals at Pyfer Reese can help answer your difficult questions, and give you clear answers. We now also offer virtual appointments for your convenience. Contact us today.

Posted in News on by Pyfer Reese.