A court will enter an income withholding order in relation to child support proceedings. If you are dealing with a child custody arrangement, one parent (generally the one that does not have custody) may be ordered to pay a certain amount of child support according to a schedule, like every week or month. The amount and frequency will be up to the court.
If the court orders you to pay child support then your employer may receive an income withholding order that will direct the employer to surrender part of the person’s income to satisfy their child support payment obligation. Other common names for this are a “child support withholding order” or a “wage withholding order”.
If you are the custodial parent, to secure your payment it is important to make sure that the court orders an official income withholding order. You should also know what will happen to your wages if you are the parent that has to pay child support and an income withholding order is in place. Employers should also know their obligations after receiving an income withholding order.
How Does the Custodial Parent Request an Income Withholding Order?
Generally, income withholding orders need to be entered along with a formal child support court order. However, both parents can request that the income withholding order not be entered. However, if the custodial parent does not agree to forfeit this then the court will generally go ahead and enter the income withholding order. It can be risky not to have a formal order in place as there is nothing concrete to fall back on in the event of nonpayment.
Other times, the custodial parent can ask the court later on to enter an income withholding order, even after the child support order was entered. You should check your court’s rules when it comes to entering these types of orders to ensure everything is done properly and timely.
Also be aware that these orders can apply to other sources of income than a person’s regular wages. Child support payments can also be funded by things like commissions, disability payments, retirement accounts, pensions, and work bonuses.
What are an Employer’s Obligations After Receiving an Income Withholding Order?
After an employer receives an income withholding order, they must verify that it is valid. It should come directly from the court or child support agency. The order must also direct the employer to send the payment to the state agency dealing with child support.
If it is a valid order, the employer should notify their employee and start deducting the appropriate amount from their pay. Again, this money should be sent directly to the appropriate state agency, which will then transfer the money to the custodial payment. Employers should know their local rules about any other requirements pertaining to income withholding orders and also have everything in writing as protection from any possible future disputes.
Employers should obviously not garnish more than the wage amount stated in the income withholding order. Also, if the employee requires wage garnishment for other things (like bankruptcy), the income withholding order will take first priority.
There is only one exception to this rule dealing with wage garnishment priority. Say the employee also has outstanding debt for their federal taxes. In this instance, the federal government takes priority and has the power to obtain funds through property seizure and sale. This would be done first before the deduction of child support debt pursuant to an income withholding order.
Are There Any Consequences for Violating an Income Withholding Order?
The parent subject to an income withholding order must understand the penalties they may face for violating the terms of the order. Child support payments are legal obligations, making income withholding orders legally enforceable. If you fail to make these payments, potential penalties include being held in contempt of court, fines, and jail time.
Employers can also face legal consequences for failing to follow a court-issued income withholding order. Many states will impose fines against employers who knowingly violate their orders, so it is important for employers to take these seriously.
Additionally, an employee may have legal recourse against their employer for firing or disciplining them if this decision is based on the income withholding order. Employers cannot make employment decisions based on the fact the employee owes child support.
Do I Need to Contact a Lawyer for Issues With an Income Withholding Order?
Child support proceedings are often very messy and complicated. The good news is you probably already have a child support lawyer representing you in these proceedings who can also help you with an income withholding order.
A lawyer can review the order to ensure it is appropriate and address any disputes. If there is an issue with an employer not following an order, a lawyer can help remedy this and seek legal recourse against the employer if necessary.