Case Initiation Services

Westmoreland County Case Initiation Services

Filing for Support

The process of applying for child support can begin in a variety of ways. It can come as part of a divorce, as a referral from the Welfare Department, from another county or state, or simply by coming to our office to ask for help. No appointment is needed. There, between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, a team of intake workers will assist a custodial parent in filing a petition for support, known in Pennsylvania as a support complaint.

The worker will provide service information and attempt to determine whether abuse played a role in the separation of the parties. Information is provided about local shelters, and every reasonable effort is made to protect the alleged victim of abuse. The worker then schedules a conference before a conference officer, sending an order to appear to the other party. Earnings and insurance information is requested of each party's employer.

If the location of the other party is not known, no conference may be scheduled until the party is located and served with an order to appear. When appropriate, petitions are forwarded to other counties or states which may have jurisdiction over the other party.

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Filing in Westmoreland County

The custodial parent or spouse filing the complaint is designated as the plaintiff. The person filed against is the defendant. You may file your complaint in Westmoreland County if:
  • You and the child live in Westmoreland County
  • The defendant lives in Westmoreland County
  • The defendant is regularly employed in Westmoreland County

Whenever possible we would file the case locally. That means our court has jurisdiction and all procedures will take place here. Sometimes that is not possible, and we must file the action to another county or state. Our intake worker will discuss your filing options so you can make an informed decision as to how you wish to proceed. Knowing the answers to the above will help speed up the process.

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Domestic Violence

Westmoreland DRS takes the issue of domestic violence very seriously and will take reasonable means to protect information which might contribute to domestic violence. During the intake process, workers provide plaintiffs with printed information concerning domestic violence and give them the opportunity to ask questions and to indicate whether domestic violence is an issue in their lives.

Domestic violence includes physical acts that result in, or threaten to result in, physical injury, sexual abuse, child sexual abuse, mental abuse and neglect. For example: stalking, threats to kidnap, kill or otherwise harm people or property, threats to commit suicide, repeated use of degrading or coercive language, controlling access to food or sleep, and controlling or withholding access to money, credit cards, or medical care, and denying contact with friends and/or family.

Everyone who applies for cash assistance or subsidized child care from the Child Care Information Services (CCIS) program is required to establish paternity and pursue support. If domestic or family violence or other circumstances makes complying with these requirements inappropriate or dangerous, the applicant/recipient may be excused based on good cause.

Good Cause

Good Cause is granted when establishing paternity or pursuing support would:
  • Make it more difficult for and individual or family member to escape domestic violence
  • Place an individual or family member at risk of further domestic violence
  • Unfairly penalize an individual who is at risk of further domestic violence

TANF recipients should see their public assistance caseworker for more details.

Allegations of abuse by one parent toward the other are a serious matter and should not be made lightly. Nevertheless, when indicated, the DRS can place a Family Violence Indicator (FVI) on a case so that addresses and other confidential information will not be given out or printed on any papers that are sent to others.

An abused party may also elect to testify by telephone. For abused parties who wish to appear, security arrangements can be made on request, and parties need not appear together for genetic test sampling.

For further information regarding abuse, please visit the web pages of the Blackburn Center Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

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What to Bring with You

We need verifiable information sufficient to identify the defendant correctly and to serve the defendant with the complaint and order to appear. As explained above, we need information sufficient to determine jurisdiction. The more information you provide the better. If you do not know where the defendant lives, other information may help us to locate the defendant. Important information regarding the defendant:
  • Name (middle name or initial helpful)
  • Current or last known address
  • Social Security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names, including mother's maiden name
  • Health insurance information
  • Employer information
  • Marriage / divorce information (places, dates)
  • Child information (date of birth, social security number, place of birth)
  • Defendant physical description (photo, if possible)
  • Current photo identification

If child was not born within a marriage:
  • Has father, either at the Welfare Office or the hospital, signed notarized documents stating he is the biological father of the child?
  • Have you, the child and the father been genetically tested? What was the result? Do you have documents?
  • Do you have any documents regarding paternity establishment? Please bring them with you.

Plaintiffs receiving TANF benefits will, by law, be considered as “non-cooperative” if they are unable to provide information sufficient to serve notice on the defendant or to proceed under the Federal Parent Locate System.

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Filing by Mail

A custodial parent seeking support or the establishment of paternity may choose, instead, to download the necessary forms from our list of online forms. You will also need to complete the Intake information questionnaire / data sheet. Just complete all information, sign and date all forms, have the signature notarized on the Complaint, and mail the forms to us, marked to the attention of Intake. You need to complete the following:
  • Social Security Number Disclosure Notice
  • Application for Child or Spousal Support Services
  • Complaint for Support
  • Intake Information Questionnaire / Data Sheet
  • Income and expense sheet
  • Photo ID

In addition, you should read the information regarding Family Violence. If you feel this applies to you, fill out the Family Violence Indicator form and mail it with the forms above.

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