Family Law Disputes: Enforcing an Existing Court Order

When a court issues a child support or spousal support order, it may seem like the legal battle is finally over. However, the existence of a court order doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual will adhere to the agreement. Sometimes child and spousal support recipients have a hard time receiving payments due to the other party’s deliberate attempt not to fulfill their obligations.

In 2011 alone, noncustodial parents in the US owed custodial parents over $100 billion in support payments. In 75 percent of the cases, these parents refused to pay even though they could afford the fees.

In such scenarios, the recipient party must take certain steps to enforce the order. Each state has specific remedies to help individuals enforce court orders and collect overdue payments. However, this article explains how to enforce an existing court order in Pennsylvania.

Enforcing Child Support Orders in Pennsylvania

A noncustodial parent who refuses to pay child support is violating a court order, and this action is punishable by law. If you are a custodial parent, here are two ways you can collect over due payments and enforce the order.

File a Court Petition

You should immediately file a child support enforcement action, also called an Order to Show Cause, in court. After filing the petition, you’ll need to deliver it to your co-parent and attend an enforcement hearing before a judge at a set date.

It’s advisable to go through this process with the help of family lawyers Norristown PA. Your attorney will accurately file your paperwork, offer legal guidance, and represent you at the enforcement hearing.

Contact BCSE

Requesting help through Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Child Support Enforcement Services (BCSE)is an alternative option. The BCSE can petition a court order to enforce your child’s support order and retrieve overdue payments.

Enforcing Spousal Support Orders

Although a refusal to pay spousal support isn’t considered severe as withholding child support, it’s still a violation of court order. You should contact family lawyers in Norristown, PA, to help you file a petition in court to enforce your spousal support.

How the Court Enforces an Order

After attending the enforcement hearing, a judge will enforce the order through the following ways:

  • Holding the delinquent party in contempt of court leading to a fine or a jail term up to six months.
  • Automatically withholding income from a paycheck
  • Revoking a driver’s, occupational, or professional license and passport
  • Withholding personal injury settlements and other benefits
  • Attaching a lien on the property
  • Seizure of bank accounts
  • Interception of lottery wins
  • Seizure of federal and state tax refunds
  • Reporting erring party to the credit bureau
  • Publishing delinquent parents name in the newspaper


A deliberate refusal to pay support obligation isn’t uncommon. However, there are cases where an individual can’t afford to pay support due to job loss or reduction of wages. If you’re a noncustodial parent having such challenges, you’ll need to go to court and modify your existing order.

Regardless of the difficulty you face with your existing order, it’s best to consult family lawyers in Norristown, PA. An experienced attorney can review your case and guide you on the steps to take.