Can Child Support Payments Be Garnished From an Unemployment Check?

By Heather Frances J.D.

Parents are legally obligated to provide financially for their children, so courts establish child support orders as part of divorce decrees. A noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay child support does not stop because he’s unemployed, and the custodial parent or a state agency can still pursue enforcement of a child support order.

Parents are legally obligated to provide financially for their children, so courts establish child support orders as part of divorce decrees. A noncustodial parent’s obligation to pay child support does not stop because he’s unemployed, and the custodial parent or a state agency can still pursue enforcement of a child support order.

Garnishment Vs. Withholding

Technically, garnishment and wage withholding are different things when it comes to child support. Garnishment typically applies to money taken from a paycheck, unemployment check or other income to pay child support arrearages -- past-due amounts. Withholding typically applies to current payments. Child support payments -- both current payments and arrearages -- can be deducted from unemployment income, though procedures vary between states. Most child support orders contain income withholding instructions. However, garnishment from unemployment or other forms of income for arrearages may require a garnishment order entered against the noncustodial parent.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now

Initiating Garnishment

In some states, like Kentucky, a noncustodial parent must disclose whether he has a child support obligation when he applies for unemployment benefits. Payments ordered by Title IV-D support orders -- those established and paid through the state’s child support enforcement agency -- may be deducted automatically from unemployment benefits, but your state may not automatically deduct payments from other support orders. However, the custodial parent may petition the court for an order to direct withholding even if she is not receiving payment through a state agency.

Deduction Percentages

Your entire check cannot be taken to pay garnishments. Federal law does not permit garnishments for arrears to exceed 60 percent of the noncustodial parent’s disposable income, which is the income available to the parent after withholding for things like taxes. If the noncustodial parent has two families to support, the limit lowers to 50 percent. States also have their own laws to limit withholding and garnishment from unemployment compensation. For example, Texas limits withholding for current child support obligations to 50 percent of the unemployment earnings.

Continued Obligations

Even if child support is not withheld from the noncustodial parent’s unemployment benefits, he still owes those missed payments. The noncustodial parent must make other arrangements to pay the missed payments directly to the custodial parent or state agency as directed by the income withholding order. If he does not pay as ordered, he may accrue interest and penalties, which he is responsible to pay.

Ready to start your LLC? Start an LLC Online Now
Can Alimony Be Paid Directly to the Ex-Spouse & Child Support Through Child Support Enforcement?

References

Related articles

Can Child Support Be Deducted From Two Jobs?

Parents have a legal obligation to provide financial support for their children, even when the parents divorce. Your divorce decree likely contains an order directing the non-custodial parent to pay a certain amount each month in child support, usually deducted from that individual's paycheck. In some cases, child support payments may be deducted from two jobs.

Alabama Child Support Arrears Laws

Child support is awarded to a custodial parent to provide financial assistance with a child's basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. Support is generally owed until the child turns 18. When a non-custodial parent does not pay as ordered, the owed support becomes past due, or in arrears. In Alabama, the Department of Human Resources' Child Support Enforcement Program aids custodial parents in the collection of child support arrearages.

Oklahoma Alimony Garnishment Rules

There are two basic types of Oklahoma garnishment cases involving alimony payments. In the first situation, a divorced person garnishes the wages of her former spouse in order to compel him to pay the alimony he owes her. In the second situation, a creditor, such as a credit card company, attempts to garnish the alimony payments from the spouse receiving those payments in order to satisfy a debt owed by her. The law in some states is less clear in this situation. However, Oklahoma statutes exempt alimony and child support payments from garnishment.

LLCs, Corporations, Patents, Attorney Help

Related articles

Alaska Child Support Withholding Laws

When you owe a debt you do not pay, the creditor can use the legal procedure of garnishment to have your employer ...

Child Support Garnishment Rules & Regulations in Michigan

In Michigan, the friend of the court may enforce a court's order for child support by withholding, or garnishing, a ...

How to Get Child Support When the Father Does Not Get Paid From a Conventional Job

Since January 1994, the United States government has mandated that all child support orders include provisions for ...

Can Child Support Be Taken From a Social Security Check?

Child support is usually paid by withholding income from a paying parent’s paycheck. However, many parents who ...

Browse by category