Wage Assignments

Federal and state law requires every child support order to include mandatory wage withholding except in very special cases. (An exception might be: a court ordered stay of a wage assignment might be ordered for a paying parent that consistently pays on time. The wage assignment stay may be honored for as long as the paying parent meets the specific terms of the court ordered stay) Upon entry of a child support court order for money, an order for Notice to Withhold is served on the paying parent's employer and requires the employer to withhold money from the paying parent’s paychecks and to forward the money to the SDU. During the time between when the court makes the order effective and when the wage withholding order actually gets served on the employer, the paying parent must make the ongoing child support payments her/himself. The issuing of a wage withholding order does not relieve the paying parent of the personal responsibility to ensure the payments are made as ordered.

The employer must give the paying parent a copy of the withholding order within 10 days after receiving it. The paying parent can file a motion with the court to try to have the withholding order revoked (Motion to Quash). Such motions are rarely successful. The employer can withhold up to 50% (one-half) of an employee's pay (after taxes are deducted) unless the court orders otherwise. Child support withholding orders have priority over most other withholding orders.

If no motion is filed, the employer must forward money to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) within 10 days after it is withheld from the employee's check. If the employer refuses to withhold or forward the money, the employer may be charged with contempt of court and be fined or jailed. The employer may also be personally liable for the child support not withheld - meaning, the employer will have to pay it out of his/her own pocket. The employer must continue withholding as long as the paying parent is employed there or until a termination of the order to withhold is served to the paying parent’s employer.

Once received, the SDU has 2 days to distribute the money to the appropriate payee - usually the custodial parent or, if the family is receiving public assistance, to the county welfare department.