How to Garnish Social Security Benefits for Back Child Support

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If the court determines you must pay child support, you must follow the order; failure to pay place in contempt of court. If a parent is behind on child support payments, the parent receiving the support can request a court hearing to determine whether a wage or income garnishment is appropriate. Although many federal and state benefits are exempt from garnishment for most debts, Social Security benefits can be garnished to pay child support.

Locate a copy of the court order for the child support. If you were married and divorced, the divorce decree should include a child support order. Likewise, if you were not married, but legally established paternity through a court proceeding, the final order should include a child support order.

Request a court hearing on the arrears. You may file a formal motion for contempt; however, many courts will accept a simple letter explaining that the parent ordered to pay support is behind and by how much. You must make the request with the court that originally ordered the child support payments.

Attend the court hearing on contempt. In most court systems, child support payments go through the court clerk so the court should have a record of the arrears; however, come prepared to give the judge exact figures yourself.

Request a garnishment at the court hearing. While the parent paying support is present, the judge can inquire as to earnings or income, such as Social Security benefits. The judge can then order a garnishment of those benefits at the hearing.

Serve the Social Security Administration with the order. In most cases, the court will take care of service for you. If, however, the court does not serve the order on your behalf, you can serve the Social Security Administration can be served by mailing a copy of the order, via certified mail, to the General Counsel of the Social Security Administration.

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