How to Pay Child Support in Pennsylvania

November 10, 2011 | Child Support, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

“How do I pay my child support?” is a question I am frequently asked by clients. Pursuant to federal and state law, child support orders must be paid via wage attachment unless the support recipient agrees in writing to waive it. Even if the wage attachment is waived, the payments must be submitted to the Pennsylvania State Collection and Disbursement Unit in Harrisburg (which we call “SCDU” or “Ski-Doo”).

Federal law imposes a limitation on how much money SCDU can deduct from a payor’s wages: 50% of the payor’s net income if he is supporting a second family or 60% if he is not. If a support order exceeds the applicable cap, then the payor is required to submit a supplemental payment every pay period to make up the difference. This supplemental payment must be made through PA-SCDU in Harrisburg, not directly to the recipient.

The most common situation where the wage attachment is more than 50% is where the payor earns bonuses or overtime that are counted as part of his net income. Those bonuses or overtime are annualized or averaged over the course of a year when calculating net available income, but most paychecks are below average with a few “big” paydays during the year. Sometimes, when payors are paid bi-weekly (26 times per year), the same problem occurs.

Calculating the supplemental payment that the payor must submit can be challenging, but it can be done. Here’s how I do it:

1. First, figure out how much you are required to pay each pay period. The support order is expressed in monthly amounts, so multiply the monthly support order times twelve (x 12). This yields the annual support amount.

2. Next, divide the annual support amount by the number of pay periods per year. If you are paid bi-weekly, divide by 26. If you are paid twice per month on the fifteenth and thirtieth, divide by 24. If you are paid monthly or weekly, divide by 12 (monthly) or 52 (weekly). This calculation yields the support amount per pay period.

3. Next, subtract the “support amount per pay period” from the wage attachment that appears on your pay stub. The difference is the supplemental amount that you should submit.

PA-SCDU will accept payments by check, money order, credit card, or electronic funds transfer. There is lots of good information about paying child support on the PA-SCDU website.

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