By Jill M. Laskowitz, Esquire
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused countless changes to our lives, including loss of jobs and reduction in income for many. If your income has changed and you are a party to support order in Pennsylvania (child support, spousal support, or alimony pendente lite), then it is important that you know what duties you have and how you could ask for a change in the support order.
First, your support order probably requires you to notify the Domestic Relations Office (DRO) and the other parties, in writing, of any “material change” in your circumstances relevant to the level of support or its administration. This includes a loss of income and a change in your income, employment, or address.
Second, your support order will not change automatically even if you notify DRO of a change in income. A petition to modify must be filed with the DRO that handles your case. As of the date of the publishing of this article, the Lancaster County DRO continues to be closed to the public. However, you can file a new support complaint or file a petition to modify an existing support order online at www.childsupport.state.pa.us. Currently, support conferences are being scheduled and conducted by phone. You will receive instructions on how to participate in the phone conference and what documents you must provide to DRO in advance.
Third, if your support order is adjusted, the change in the amount of support you owe or receive generally only takes effect as of the date the petition to modify was filed. For example, if you lost your job and your income changed as of August 1, but you did not file your petition to modify until September 1, a change in your support order would normally not take effect until September 1.
Our family law attorneys are experienced at handling support matters. They are here to advise you about child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, support modifications, and other domestic issues. If you have questions, please contact the attorneys in our family law practice group.
**This update is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an attorney-client relationship where one does not already exist. This article was published on October 15, 2020. Please be aware that the laws and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic are being updated rapidly. Please check back or contact us for the most up-to-date information.**