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Garnishment options to collect child support

Texas parents who are not receiving their court-ordered child support payments may be interested in some of the options that may be available to them. Since child support is mandatory once ordered, enforcement is available through several sources, including garnishment of some Social Security benefits and income tax refunds.

Different sources of income include Supplemental Security Income, retirement, survivor and disability benefits. SSI falls under the umbrella of public assistance and is thus not able to be accessed to pay child support. On the other hand, retirement benefits earned by workers who have paid into the system are eligible to be garnished.

The Social Security Administration may withhold up to 65 percent of the retirement benefits of the parent who is delinquent. However, the amount that is taken may vary depending upon whether the delinquent parent is subject to a spousal support order or is required to pay support to another child. The local Social Security office will need proof that it can withhold funds from the delinquent payer's account. This income withholding order is issued by the court, making it necessary to petition the court first. The court will require proof that the parent has failed to meet his or her obligation.

Once received, the Social Security funds may be withdrawn from the delinquent parent's monthly benefit. If these benefits are not currently being paid, the withholding order will be placed on file. Once payments begin or resume, the money will be withdrawn. In addition, if retirement or other benefits are not available, the obligor's federal income tax refund may be garnished. For a custodial parent facing this type of situation, consulting with an attorney who has experience in child support disputes may be beneficial. The attorney can outline the various enforcement options that may be available.

Source: Time, "How to Collect Child Support from an Ex's Social Security Benefits", Kerri Anne Renzulli, March 17, 2015

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