People Above Politics
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Action, Getting Results.
Lebanon PA 17046
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Thank you for your help and support
during this campaign. Your unwavering commitment is
the wind beneath my wings.
On election day, every vote matters. You
matter! And I can't win this race without you.
you for your support and for all that you do.
Sincerely, Jo Ellen
People Above Politics
Team Litz: Treasurer, Cathy Garrison
Honorary Chair: Lt.
Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll --a woman who broke the glass ceiling and
contributed greatly to PA politics; born
in 1930, died
November 12, 2008.
Swatara Watershed Association
American Business Women's Association
Lebanon County Commission for
Democratic Club of Lebanon Valley
Club of Lebanon
Web site paid for by Jo Ellen Litz.
|Karen Hess is the Director of Domestic Relations.|
|In 1978, Joseph Hill, a full-time staff
attorney, was hired to assist Domestic Relations.|
|The Domestic Relations Section of the Court of Common Pleas deals with
the many problems of broken marriages, estranged spouses, children born
out of wedlock, separated families, indigent parents, and children
committed to the custody of the Department of Children and Youth Services,
and the Juvenile Probation Section of the court.|
|The general phone number for Domestic Relations is 228-4480
(Or you can stop by room 202, 400 S 8th St., Lebanon.) Because
approximately 600 phone calls are received daily, a PACSES
computerized system may help you with information on your account.|
|Services begin when a party comes to the Domestic Relations office
for intake on a first come, first served
basis. A Domestic Relations Intake Officer interviews the client and, if
eligible, assists the client in determining the best method for addressing
the problem. Most often the session will result in the client filing a
complaint or petition for modification of the support order. A
conference requiring both parties' attendance is
scheduled by court order and notice is served.|
|The joint conference is conducted before a
Domestic Relations Conference Officer. If
mutual agreement regarding support, payment of medical bills,...
can be reached at this conference, both parties are asked to sign an
agreement which becomes a court order after being signed by the judge.|
|Effective January 1, 1996, due to changes in the PA Rules of Civil
Procedure, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the
Conference Officer determines an interim order
of court by using the Statewide Support Guidelines. The interim order is
signed by a judge and remains in effect until the case is heard de novo by
a Domestic Relations Master at the earliest possible date. The Hearing
Master hears relevant information and arguments. At the conclusion of the
hearing, the Master files findings of fact and a recommended order. That
order stands and as interim order for ten (10) days. Unless exceptions
are filed to the recommendation and order, the order becomes a final
order. If exceptions are timely filed, the matter is reviewed by a judge.|
|When one party does not appear for the joint session, the Hearing
Officer will recommend to the court an order of support based on available
information. If signed by the judge, this recommendation becomes an order
of court. Either party has ten (10) days to demand a hearing before a
Domestic Relations Master. If a demand is made, the order becomes and
interim order and the matter is listed for a hearing before a Domestic
|Once an order of support is set, the Domestic Relations Section acts
as an agent of the court to enforce the order, to settle disputes that
arise over the order, and to collect and distribute payments as directed.
In 1996, there were 8,200 cases.|
Source: the Daily News, April 9, 1995
In order to secure support for a child born out of
wedlock, the Domestic Relations Section assists in the establishment of
paternity. This involves the scheduling of genetic testing. Effective
Match 31, 1996, because of changes to the PA Rules of Civil Procedure,
Hearing Officers are authorized to enter default findings of paternity if
the defendant, after appropriate service, fails to attend either an office
hearing or a genetic testing appointment. If
paternity is established, the matter proceeds as in any other action for
Many accounts are in some form of delinquency. Records
are checked periodically manually and by the statewide
computer system (PACSES) or whenever complaints are received from
the plaintiff, the Department of Public Welfare, attorneys or other
involved parties. Action is then taken to have the account brought
All orders of support handled by
the Domestic Relations Section must be wage attached. This is probably
the single most effective tool in the collection of regular, timely
support payments. Effective collection by use of wage attachments
requires keeping current information about the defendant's place of
employment and having good lines of communication with the employers
involved. At times, enforcement action must be taken against employers as
well as defendants.
Although wage attachments are the most frequently used
collection tool, there are other methods used to collect support. These
include telephone contacts, correspondence, office conferences, having a
client report weekly on his or her employment status and attachment of
income tax refunds and unemployment compensation.
If these are unsuccessful, the enforcement officers may
issue a petition for contempt to have the defendant appear before the
court to show cause why he or she should not be found in contempt. The
enforcement section first conducts a conference with these defendants to
attempt to resolve the matter without a judicial hearing. If the matter
cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the plaintiff, defendant and
Domestic Relations Section, disposition of the matter is then up to the
judge who will make an order which might include attachment of wages,
incarceration, payment of arrears in full, or continuation of the matter
for later review by the court. In the event the defendant, after proper
service, fails to appear, the judge may issue a bench warrant.
In order to perform these duties, the Domestic Relations
Section cooperates with many other federal,
state, county and community agencies in trying to serve the residents of
All cases administered by DRS are input
into the statewide computer system (PA Child Support Enforcement System (PACSES).