Pennsylvania Attorneys Must Check For Child Support Arrears Before Settling Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Cases

Pennsylvania attorneys face new obligations in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases when receiving a settlement, verdict or award. On July 7, 2006, Governor Rendell signed Act 109 (effective September 5, 2006), which amends Title 23 of the Domestic Relations Code and allows the Department of Public Welfare to intercept child support payments that are past due from lump sum monetary verdicts, awards or settlements paid by defendants, insurance companies and workers’ compensation sources. The law states that no payment can be made until an outstanding child support obligation is satisfied.

For example, if a plaintiff in a personal injury case in Philadelphia settles the case, the plaintiff must provide her attorney with a statement containing his name, address, date of birth, social security number and written documentation as to whether back due payments exist from the Pennsylvania child support enforcement system website. The attorney must then obtain a report from the website and check to see if there is any outstanding arrears or lien.

In Pennsylvania workers’ compensation cases, the workers’ compensation judges are requesting this information be presented to them before a settlement is approved. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, no order providing for a payment shall be entered by the workers’ compensation judge unless the prevailing claimant provides the judge with written documentation of arrears from the Pennsylvania Child Support Enforcement System Web site, or, if no arrears exist, written documentation from the Web site indicating no arrears. The judge shall order payment of the lien for overdue support to the department’s state disbursement unit from the net proceeds due the claimant. The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation has the forms listed on their website to comply with Act 109.