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Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

March 14, 2008

Q. How will an employer be informed to start withholding child support from an employee’s wages?

A. An employer will receive a notice from the State Child Support Enforcement (CSE) withholding agency that tells when to begin, how much to deduct, and where to send the money.

Q. Will an employer have to tell the employee?

A. The employee will already have received notice of the forthcoming withholding action containing all the pertinent information, and will have been given a chance to contest any mistakes of fact believed to be in the notice.

Q. How long after an employer receives the notice does withholding begin?

A. Withholding is to begin no later than the first pay period that occurs 14 days after the mailing date of the notice, or on the date specified in the notice, whichever is earlier.

Q. Can an employer combine all the deductions in a pay period and send one check to the withholding agency?

A. Yes. For each withholding agency an employer sends payments to, one check can be written for the total amount as long as there is an itemization of the amount withheld from each person and the date it was withheld.

Q. If employees are paid every two weeks, when does an employer send the payments to the withholding agency?

A. An employer has ten days to send all amounts to the withholding agency.

Q. Can an employer refuse to hire someone who has a withholding against his wages?

A. No. If an employer refuses to hire or if an employer disciplines or discharges an employee because of a wage withholding for child support, that employer is subject to a fine under state law.

Q. What are the consequences for the failure to withhold?

A. An employer will be liable for the full amount, as it accumulates from the date of the notice.

Q. How does an employer know when to stop the withholding?

A. The withholding remains in effect until the employer is notified by the withholding agency of any changes to the order.

Q. Does child support withholding apply to commissions?

A. Federal law requires that child support be withheld only from wages. The state is given the option, however, of applying withholding to other forms of income such as commissions, dividends, retirement benefits, and other types of compensation.

Q. Is there any limit to the amount that can be withheld?

A. The total amount allowed to be withheld from any employee’s paycheck is limited to the amounts in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) unless otherwise specified by State law. The limits provided in the CCPA are 50 percent of disposable earnings in the case of an absent parent who has a second family, and 60 percent if there is no second family. These limits are each increased by 5 percent (to 55 and 65) if payments are in arrears for a period equal to 12 weeks or more.

Q. If there is already a wage attachment against an employee, and a child support order comes in, the total deducted will be more than allowed under the law. What should the employer do in these circumstances?

A. By Federal law, withholding of child support takes priority over any other legal process carried out under state law against the same wages. This means that the child support withholding must be done first, then the deductions for other withholding orders can be made.

Q. If I receive a withholding notice from another state, am I required to honor it?

A. Some states have long arm statutes that allow them to request withholding directly from employers in other states. You should honor that request, just as you do one from your state. If you have questions, your state withholding agency will be able to assist you.

Q. What do I do when the employee leaves my employ?

A. You must notify the State Child Support Enforcement withholding agency promptly when the employee leaves, giving the employee’s last known home address and new employer’s name and address, if known.

Information courtesy of What Every Business Manager and HR Professional Should Know About Federal Labor and Employment Laws

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