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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law

What should I know about wage assignments for child support?

In California, when there is an order for a noncustodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent, it is a common foundation for dispute. Many issues can arise with child support and with a wage assignment, the payments come directly out of the paycheck of the supporting parent. With a wage assignment - also known as garnishment - there are certain facts that should be understood. These are critical to both parties.

An employer will receive a wage assignment and must begin taking the money out of the parent's paycheck within 10 days. The payments will be sent to the State Disbursement Unit. The SDU will then provide the supported parent with the payment. Some people do not want their wages garnished. The court must have wage assignments to collect child support. This is a requirement under the law. However, it is possible to object to a wage assignment. If the parents decide they do not want a wage assignment, the court can review the case to determine if eliminating the wage assignment is feasible.

Parents can ask that the wage assignment be set aside (also called "quashed" or canceled). After the employer has received the wage assignment, the employee will get a form for a hearing. There will be 10 days from receiving this form to request a hearing about the case. The parent can state why he or she does not want the wage assignment on this form. The judge will then decide. Another justification beyond an agreement between the parents includes not being the person who was ordered to pay child support. For parents, the following circumstances must be in place for the wage assignment to be ended: it is in the child's best interests; the payments were made on time and in full for the prior year without a wage assignment; there is no child support arrears; and the wage assignments are causing undue hardship.

Wage assignments are meant to ensure the receiving parent gets the payments and the paying parent will pay them when they are obligated to do so. Still, there is always nuance with family law issues and those who are concerned about wage assignments should understand what can be done to change the order or come to another resolution. A law firm that has experience in family law cases should be consulted with to prepare for the case and deal with any matter that comes up.

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