Can Unpaid Child Support Come from My Former Spouse’s Social Security?
One question you might have as you go through the divorce process is whether you are able to garnish your former spouse’s Social Security payments to collect unpaid child support. The answer to this question depends primarily on the type of Social Security benefits your former spouse receives.
You cannot collect unpaid child support from Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But for any other type of Social Security benefit, you can indeed collect the money you are owed.
Getting your child support payments
Social Security Income is classified as a welfare benefit instead of an earned benefit like retirement, survivor benefits or disability. This is why the federal government does not allow you to garnish those payments for child support purposes.
With these other Social Security benefits, however, you can submit a request to your local Social Security office to garnish them if your former spouse is collecting those benefits but failing to make child support payments, or if he or she owes back support.
For the agency to agree to garnish these benefits, you will need to pass along an income withholding order that was officially issued by a judge, meaning you’ll need to go to court and prove your ex is not living up to his or her child support obligations.
Once the Social Security office receives this order, it will put the data about your case into its database and start withholding payments, or percentages of the total back support owed. If benefit payments are not currently being made, the garnishment order will still stay on file, and the garnishment will continue if your ex-spouse begins collecting those benefits again.
Keep in mind that, in accordance with federal law, the Social Security office is only allowed to withhold up to 65 percent of monthly benefits to pay child support.
For more information on collecting unpaid child support, speak with an experienced divorce lawyer at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.