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Review of Oklahoma Child Support Income Assignment Computations (pursuant to OKDHS guidelines)

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES

CHILD SUPPORT INCOME ASSIGNMENT REVIEW

Income-Withholding Order/Notice

Income withholding is the court- or administratively-ordered deduction of a specified amount from a parent's income for payment of child support. All Federal agencies must honor an income-withholding order/notice for child support from any state. Out-of-state income-withholding orders/notices are valid throughout the country including U.S. territories. All states are required to use a standardized withholding form entitled Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (OMB No. 0970-0154) [PDF - 54 KB]. Instructions for the form can also be found on the website: " Income Withholding for Support - Instructions" [PDF - 30 KB]

A child support income-withholding order/notice must be paid before all other garnishments, with one exception. The only withholding that takes precedence over child support is a Federal (IRS) tax levy entered prior to when the underlying child support order was established. It is the date that the child support order is established, and not the date the withholding order/notice is served on the Federal agency, that determines precedence.

Not only must child support be paid first, a higher percentage of the employee's disposable income can be withheld for child support than for other garnishments. The Federal agency deducts the specified amount of child support each pay period and sends it to the state child support enforcement (CSE) agency's State Disbursement Unit (SDU), which then forwards the payment to the custodial parent. In private cases (not enforced by the CSE agency) in which the support order was initially issued on or after January 1, 1994, the Federal agency must also forward the payment to the SDU. Some states require that all child support payments be sent to the SDU, regardless of date. The income-withholding order specifies where the payment should be sent.

Child support is withheld from an employee's regular pay, but it can also be withheld from income other than a paycheck. For Federal employees, this is the list of Federal benefits from which child support can be deducted:

  • Periodic benefits

    1. pensions
    2. retirement benefits
    3. retired/retainer pay
    4. annuities
    5. dependents' or survivors' benefits when payable to the obligor
  • refunds of retirement contributions where an application has been filed

  • amounts received under any Federal program for compensation for work injuries

  • benefits received under the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act

  • compensation for death under any Federal program, including death gratuities

  • benefits from the Social Security Administration (but not SSI benefits); Veterans Affairs (in certain instances); Railroad Retirement Board; and Black Lung.

For more details, please refer to the OPM regulations on processing garnishment orders for child support and/or alimony in Title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Processing the Order/Notice

Upon receipt of the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support, the agency should:

  1. Document the date and time of receipt.
  2. Determine if the order is "regular on its face" (that is, it appears to be an authentic and complete legal document).
  3. Send a copy of the Order/Notice to the employee within 15 calendar days from the date of receipt.
  4. Follow the terms of the order.

Although Federal agency employers follow Federal law for New Hire Reporting, Federal law directs Federal agencies to follow state law for income withholding.

The law of the issuing state governs:

  • Duration and amount of child support, current and arrears;
  • Medical support terms;
  • Where to remit payments; and
  • Payment of fees and costs charged (if any) by the child support enforcement (CSE) agency, issuing court or custodial party's attorney.

The law of the employee's official duty station state (or "principal place of employment") governs:

  • When to begin withholding (if longer than 30 calendar days);
  • When to remit payments (this can be from 1 to 7 days after payday);
  • Maximum amount to be withheld (within Consumer Credit Protection Act limits);
  • How to allocate withholding across multiple child support orders;
  • Administrative fee that the Federal agency is permitted to charge the employee; and
  • Other terms and conditions that may be set by state law.

State Income Withholding Information

Only the employee has the right to dispute the terms of a child support income-withholding order and can do so by contacting the issuing agency or tribunal. The Federal agency cannot contest the income-withholding order; however, the Federal agency should contact the issuing CSE agency if unable to implement the withholding order either because the individual named in the order is not an employee or a withholding is already in place for the child.

Withholding Examples

Allowable Disposable Income

  • Biweekly gross pay is $760.
  • Biweekly child support due is $295.
  • Mandatory deductions total $201.
  • Employee is single and does not owe back child support.

Note the following differences between net pay and disposable income in this example. The amount of disposable income, $559, is used to determine child support withholding limits, rather than the net pay, $469.

Gross Pay Federal income tax FICA Medicare Health insurance Union dues Thrift Savings Plan Union pension Credit union car loan Disposable Income:

$760.00 (95.00) (45.00) (11.00) (25.00) (25.00)

$559.00

$760.00 (95.00) (45.00) (11.00) (25.00) (10.00) (25.00) (30.00) (50.00)

Net Pay: $469.00

  • Gross pay - mandatory deductions = disposable income: $760 - $201 = $559
  • Disposable income x CCPA % limit = allowable disposable income: $559 x 60% = $335.40 Note that 60% is the applicable CCPA limit because the employee is not supporting a second family and does not owe any past due child support. Allowable disposable income is the maximum available for child support withholding. Allowable disposable income (from above) is $335.40.
  • $335.40 > $295.00, so the full $295 is withheld for child support.

If you take the same example but increase the biweekly child support payment to $400, you cannot withhold the full amount due. By law, you can only withhold a maximum of $335.40. This means that the employee will fall behind by $64.60, and will be in arrears. Some states charge interest on the overdue amounts. The employee has the option of paying the underpaid amount directly to the issuing agency if he or she does not want to fall into arrears.

Imputed Income

Imputed income is considered a fringe benefit provided to employees that must be counted as additional income subject to taxation, but not counted as additional income for calculation of allowable disposable income for child support purposes. Examples of imputed income are employer-paid parking garage fees that exceed the Federal allowance and non-qualified tuition reimbursement.

In calculating child support, imputed income must be subtracted from the disposable income before determining the obligated employee’s allowable disposable income.

Wages Add imputed income of parking fees Taxable earnings Deduct mandatory deductions Subtract imputed income Disposable earnings

$1,000 100 $1,100 (350) (100) $650

The CCPA limit would then be applied to the disposable earnings of $650, rather than the amount of $750 ($1,100 - $350 = $750), which represents taxable earnings less mandatory deductions.

Additional resources provided by the author

OKDHS policy manual

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