child support and the employer’s order to withhold

child support, employer's order, paycheck

A common issue that arises in child support cases is the roll that an obligor’s (person paying child support) employer plays in the payment of child support.  There is a misconception that once an employer’s order to withhold earnings for child support is given to an employer, the obligor is covered on child support.  That cannot be further from the truth.  Let me give you an example:

  1. Danny and Donna Divorce finalize their divorce case on September 21, 2010.  The court signs the final decree of divorce on that day and the employers order to withhold for child support.  The decree and order state that child support begins on October 1, 2010.
  2. Larry Lawyer, who represents Donna, submits the employer’s order to Danny’s employer on October 3, 2010 so that child support comes out of his check.
  3. Danny believes that there is nothing that he needs to do since the order was entered on September 21, 2010 and his child support will come out of his check.  Danny does not even bother checking his paycheck to see if the child support comes out because his paychecks are auto-deposited into his checking account.
  4. Meanwhile, Danny’s employer processes the order and begin withholding child support from his check on November 12, 2010.
  5. Donna is not happy.  She calls her lawyer, Larry, and complains that she has not received a child support payment since the decree was entered.  It is now November 13, 2010.
  6. Larry files a contempt action against Danny for failure to pay his child support for the month of September.
  7. Larry argues that it is supposed to come out of his check and that he did not know that his employer was not withholding the amounts.
  8. Result?  Larry is held in contempt for failing to pay his child support and pays Larry lots of attorney fees.
  9. Why?  Because Danny is responsible for payment of the child support every month regardless of whether his employer withholds it or not.  It is not a defense that his employer screwed up or did not screw up.

The moral of the story.  If you are ordered to pay child support, you are responsible for making the payment every month.  It is up to you to confirm that the correct amounts are coming out of your check.

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