Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania
County of Allegheny
Administration | Press Releases

FAMILY DIVISION BENCH WARRANT AMNESTY PROGRAM AUGUST 2017


For immediate release:
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

For more information contact:
Patrick W. Quinn, Esq., Administrator, Family Division-Adult
412-350-6930


MEDIA ADVISORY


FAMILY DIVISION BENCH WARRANT AMNESTY PROGRAM

AUGUST 2017


Each year in August, Allegheny County Family Division celebrates Child Support Awareness month with planned events for both the public and staff.  This year, during the week of August 21-25, Family Division will offer a Bench Warrant Amnesty Program for child support defendants.  This program will allow defendants with an active Family Division bench warrant an opportunity to appear in court without fear of being arrested or incarcerated.  As each defendant appears, Family Division staff will meet with the individual to review their case status, address any issues, and dismiss the warrant without any time spent in the Allegheny County Jail. 

Eligible defendants will receive a letter advising them of the date they are required to appear during the week of August 21-25, 2017 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. in order to take advantage of the Bench Warrant Amnesty Program.  Letters will be mailed to the last known address on record with the Court.  Litigants are urged to update their contact information with Family Division by calling 412-350-5600 or accessing their case on the Child Support Website at www.childsupport.state.pa.us

Previous amnesty programs proved very successful for custodial parents in Allegheny County.  During the last Amnesty Program in 2015, staff cleared 504 bench warrants and collected in excess of $32,000 in past due support.  In addition to the money collected, the Court also obtained valuable information leading to the establishment of support orders and the issuance of wage attachments, thereby resulting in the consistent collection of support benefitting Allegheny County children.

While Pennsylvania leads the country in the area of child support as the only state to achieve over 80 percent in each of the five performance measures established by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), Allegheny County is recognized as one of the best urban jurisdictions for also attaining 80 percent in the performance measures.  Of the 31,025 open cases in Allegheny County, orders exist in 28,187 cases, resulting in a performance measure of 90.85 percent.  Family Division also outperforms most other urban areas in collecting the support that is owed.  During federal fiscal year 2016, the Family Division collected $124,748,643 in child support. 

"Child support is among the most important obligations parents owe to their children.  Adequate support is central to a child's economic well-being," noted Kim Berkeley Clark, Administrative Judge of the Family Division.  "Children who receive adequate financial and emotional support from their parents tend to have lower rates of teen pregnancy; have greater social interaction with friends; have improved health; are more focused in school and make better grades; are less likely to engage in violent behavior; are less likely to grow up in poverty; and are less likely to use drugs or drink alcohol at a young age."

"The Fifth Judicial District is recognized as a leader in child support enforcement and collection, and we are proud of our national reputation," continued Judge Clark.  "Nevertheless, far too many parents still avoid their financial obligation to their children. The Warrant Amnesty Program affords those individuals the opportunity to voluntarily come forward and meet their responsibilities to their children without fear of spending time in jail." 

Defendants who believe they may have an active Family Division warrant, but do not receive a letter from the Court advising them of the Bench Warrant Amnesty Program, are encouraged to contact the Family Division at 412-350-5600 for further information and assistance.