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With a state court judgment for alimony, may I garnish his social security wages? Secondly, if he retaliates, can I still do it

Alexandria, VA |

By the second part of that, what I mean is if he were to stop collecting social security voluntarily once he knows I am garnishing his social security wages, do I have rights to force the payouts to continue so that I can satisfy the alimony judgment?

We are still married, and he will not cooperate with any U.S. court in a divorce proceeding. The alimony judgment is double what he is receiving in social security (so correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I would be entitled to 100% of it). He is full time employed in a non-extradition country overseas and is currently paying me 0, even though I cannot find a job. He has no assets in the U.S. that I am aware of.

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The Social Security system limits the garnishment amount to the lesser of the State maximum or the maximum under the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) (15 U.S.C. 1673(b)) and is based on the law of the State where the beneficiary resides. Hereafter, the CCPA limit is referred to as the “Federal” limit. The CCPA limits garnishment to:

50%, if the beneficiary is supporting a spouse and/or child other than the spouse and/or child whose support has been ordered.

60%, if the beneficiary is not supporting another spouse and/or child.

55% or 65% respectively, if the garnishment order or other evidence submitted indicates the original support ordered is 12 or more weeks in arrears.

NOTE: SSI (Supplemental Security Income) payments are not subject to garnishment.

I do not think you can 'force' him to keep receiving benefits, but a court could jail him for contempt or significant arrearages on support obligations if he stops the benefits to spite you.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.


If you are still married you cannot receive alimony and cannot thus garnish his wages.

When you are divorced you may be able to garnish some of his SS but the court will decide what is fair based on his available resources.

Following are the circumstances where SS may be garnished.

There are a number of circumstances when the Federal government can garnish Social Security benefits.

Social Security will garnish benefits:

To enforce child support or alimony obligations under 42 USC 659;
To enforce a valid garnishment for court-ordered victim restitution under 18 USC 3613;
To collect unpaid Federal taxes under 26 USC 6334(c);
To have a portion of your check withheld to satisfy a current year Federal income tax liability under 26 USC 3402 (P); or
Other Federal agencies will offset benefits to collect money from benefits to pay a non-tax debt owed to that agency according to the Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134).

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