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Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Is there a limit to the amount of money that can be taken from my paycheck for child support?

    Yes. The amount that can be withheld from your wages is limited by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act.

    Here are the limits:

    • 50 percent of disposable income if an obligated parent has a second family
    • 60 percent if there is no second family

    These limits are each increased by 5 percent (to 55% and 65%) if payments are in arrears (past-due) for a period equal to 12 weeks or more. State law may further limit the amount that can be taken from your paycheck.

    Visit the Intergovernmental Reference Guide, select your state on the map, and look under “Income Withholding” to find information about your state’s income withholding limits and procedures.

  • What is income withholding?

    Income withholding is a process that deducts child support payments automatically from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck, like taxes. When a child support order is established, the child support agency sends an income withholding notice to the noncustodial parent’s employer. The notice explains how often and how much to withhold. The employer withholds the child support payment and sends it to the child support agency. The child support agency records the payment and sends the money to the custodial parent.

    Since January 1994, child support orders require income withholding unless both parents and the courts agree on another payment method.

  • When the noncustodial parent is not paying, who can help me collect money?

    Your child support office will enforce an order. Contact your tribal or state agency to find out what methods are available.

  • If I have a tribal child support order and I am moving off of my reservation, will the state enforce my tribal child support order?

    Yes. The state will enforce a tribal order. State and tribal child support agencies are required to recognize and enforce the child support orders issued by the other jurisdiction.

    If the noncustodial parent still lives on the reservation, the tribe will continue to enforce the order. If the noncustodial parent moves off the reservation, the tribe may ask the state for assistance in enforcing the order. If the noncustodial parent met the obligation with in-kind payments and the state is helping to enforce the order, the noncustodial parent will now pay the order in cash rather than in-kind, non-cash payments.

  • How will my tribal child support order be enforced?

    Enforcement of a tribal child support order is very similar to enforcement of a state child support order. Income withholding is required when the arrears equals one month of support payments. Tribes have some traditional methods that have had success:  grandparent mediators and garnishing per capita payments or Individual Indian Money Accounts. The methods of enforcement are as varied as the tribal programs. Some tribes work with states to offset federal tax refunds and deny passports.

    Contact your tribe to determine how they will enforce your order.

  • Will location and enforcement services cost more if my agency is dealing with another state or jurisdiction?

    Possibly.  It depends on what your child support agency has to do to find the noncustodial parent and establish regular payment. The more solid information and leads you provide, the more efficiently your case can be worked. Service fees vary by state depending on whether you are receiving cash assistance. Your caseworker should be able to tell you more about these costs.

    The Child Support Handbook has more information about fees.

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