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Child support and Social Security garnishments

Parents in New Jersey who are not receiving the child support they are entitled to may want to look into garnishing the other parent's Social Security benefits. This is not possible if the benefits are in the form of Supplemental Security Income because it is considered public assistance, but it may be with earned benefits such as disability, retirement or survivor benefits.

In order to do so, the parent who is owed child support must go before a judge and demonstrate that the other parent is not paying. A judge may issue an income withholding order, and this can be taken to the local Social Security office. No more than 65 percent of the other parent's Social Security payment can be withheld, and if the parent is not currently receiving any benefits, the garnishment will still remain on record. The financial situation of the other parent will be taken into account including whether they are paying child or spousal support from other relationships.

The state will assist in collecting child support for minor children. It may also be possible to seek the state's assistance if the support order was applied for while the children were minors even if they are now adults. In other cases, it may be necessary to hire a private attorney.

Sometimes, parents who are divorcing may not want to formalize child support arrangements for various reasons, but a court order gives the parent entitled to the support a basis for child support enforcement if such a step is necessary. An attorney who has experience in family law matters can outline to a parent who is owed such payments the various methods that are available to enforce the order, including the possibility of collecting the delinquency out of an income tax refund owed to the parent who has failed to pay.

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

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