The Family Support Act of 1988 requires that child support payments be withheld from a noncustodial parent’s paycheck from the time that the child support is ordered. The noncustodial parent's earnings will be withheld unless he/she can 1) show good cause why it should not be done or 2) has an alternate arrangement with our offices and the custodial parent. (Good cause and alternative arrangements concerning earning assignments are specified in California Family Code Section 5260).
The employer of the noncustodial parent/obligor is served with a court order or notice to withhold a specified amount of current support and back child support, with instructions to send the wages to our office for distribution. The assignment becomes effective as soon as possible, but not later than 10 days from the date you receive it. Once a wage assignment is served, the employer must honor it as long as the noncustodial parent remains employed with the employer. Earnings and income must be withheld from each payment and your check sent within 10 days.
If you willfully fail to withhold and forward support, you may be personally liable for the amount of support not withheld, and you may be held in contempt of court. You may, however, deduct up to $1.50 from the obligor’s earnings for each payment that you make.
California law forbids you from discharging an employee/obligor from employment, refusing to employ, or taking disciplinary action against any employee because of a child support withholding.
California Family Code Section 5260 requires that the employer cooperate with and provide relevant employment information to our offices for the purpose of enforcing, modifying, or establishing the support obligation. If the employee/independent contractor whose name appears on the assignment terminates his/her employment or business relationship, you must notify our office immediately so that proper action can be taken to relieve your obligation to deduct the payments. Please provide our office with the following information:
- Employee’s/Obligor’s Name
- Employee’s Case Identifier
- Last Known Home Address
- New Employer’s Address
- Date Of Separation
Amount to Withhold
Earnings for purposes of a wage assignment include: 1) wages, salary, bonuses, vacation pay, retirement pay, and commissions paid by an employer; 2) payments for services of independent contractors; 3) dividends, interest, rents, royalties, and residuals; 4) patent rights, and mineral or other natural resource rights; 5) any payments due as a result of written or oral contracts for services or sales, regardless of title; 6) payments due for workers' compensation temporary benefits, or payments from a disability or health insurance policy or program; and 7) any other payments or credits due regardless of source. You may be required to report and withhold from lump sum payments such as bonuses, commissions, or severance pay.
The wage assignment order has priority over any other withholding order against the employee/obligor. Federal tax levies in effect before receipt of this order have priority. If there are Federal tax levies in effect, please contact our office.
You may not withhold more than the lesser of: 1) the amounts allowed by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1673(b)); or 2) the amounts allowed by the State of the employee/obligor's principal place of employment. The Federal limit applies to the aggregate disposable weekly earnings (ADWE). ADWE is the net income left after making mandatory deductions such as: State, Federal, local taxes; Social Security taxes; and Medicare taxes; along with disability insurance and payments to public employees' retirement systems. After the employee's disposable earnings are known, withhold the amount required by the wage assignment, but never withhold more than 50 percent of disposable earnings unless the court order specifies a higher percentage. Federal law prohibits withholding more than 65 percent of disposable earnings of an employee in any case.
Pay Date/Date of Withholding
You must report the pay date/date of withholding when sending a payment. This is the date on which the amount was withheld from the employee’s wages. If the employee/independent contractor is paid biweekly, you must withhold payment from the first two pay dates of each month; or, if paid weekly, the first four pay dates of each month.
Combined Payment for Multiple Assignments
If you have more than one assignment order from our office, you may combine withheld amounts from more than one employee’s income in a single payment. You must, however, separately identify the portion of the single payment that is attributable to each employee/obligor. Please include each employee’s Full Name, Member ID#, Social Security Number, and the Pay Date.
Combined Payment for an Employee with Multiple Withholdings
If an employee has more than one assignment order to our office, you may combine the withheld amounts pertaining to each order and write one single check -- no need to provide breakdown of each order. If you are unable to honor all wage assignments due to Federal or State withholding limits, you must follow the state law of the employee’s principal place of employment. You must honor all assignment orders to the greatest extent possible.