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Income Withholding Notices - Requirements

DCL-98-107

Published: October 8, 1998
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Case Management, Employer Responsibilities, Income/Wage Withholding
Types:
Policy, Dear Colleague Letters (DCL)

TO ALL IV-D DIRECTORS

RE: Income Withholding Notices

Dear Colleague:

It has recently come to the attention of the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) that several Federal agencies have expressed to State child support enforcement agencies that they will not comply with income withholding notices unless they are accompanied by a certified copy of the child support order. Similarly, many State child support enforcement agencies have reported that several Federal agencies have refused to honor income withholding notices unless they are sent via certified mail.

Executive Order 12953, §301 states that Federal agencies must ensure that they are in full compliance with §459 of the Social Security Act, and "shall endeavor, to the extent feasible, to process wage withholding actions consistent with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. §666(b)," which sets forth the procedures for withholding from income amounts payable as support. One of these procedures requires that an income withholding notice be sent to the obligor's employer.

The only stipulation concerning income withholding notices is that they "shall be in a standard format prescribed by the Secretary, and shall contain only such information as may be necessary for the employer to comply with the withholding order." See, 42 U.S.C. §466(b)(6)(A)(ii). The Secretary has not further prescribed how the notice must be sent. Consequently, Federal agencies may not require a certified copy of the child support order, nor may they require that the notice be sent via certified mail, as there is no basis to support such requirements.

Furthermore, according to 42 U.S.C. §666, "an employer who complies with an income withholding notice that is regular on its face shall not be subject to civil liability to any individual or agency for conduct in compliance with the notice."

Thank you for your enduring commitment to this program's current and future success. Working together, we can achieve our goal of ensuring that all children have the support they need and deserve.

Sincerely,

David Gray Ross

Commissioner

Office of Child Support Enforcement