Seeking Child Support from Social Security Benefits

In many Florida divorce cases where the couple has children, the parent who is awarded physical custody will be the beneficiary of a child support order to help them provide financially for the child. While some non-custodial parents cannot pay due to their own economic hardships, others just refuse to pay altogether. In some cases, custodial parents may have the option of seeking their child support from the non-custodial parent's other assets, including Social Security.

Custodial parents may collect delinquent child support from a number of Social Security benefits, including survivor, disability or retirement benefits. Before this can be done, however, the custodial parent must receive an income withholding order from a judge upon a show of proof that the non-custodial parent has failed to make the payments. Once the order is filed with the Social Security office, up to 65 percent of the benefit payments will be subject to garnishment. Even if the non-custodial parent is currently not receiving benefits, the order will be kept on file until payments commence or resume.

One Social Security benefit that cannot be garnished in order to pay back child support is Supplemental Security Income. The reason for this is that SSI is regarded as a form of welfare, unlike the other benefits that are deemed to be earned because the recipient had previously paid into the system.

When non-custodial parents refuse to adhere to a child support order, it can be difficult for custodial parents to determine how they may get the financial support they are owed. A family law attorney may assist with locating the sources of the non-custodial parent's income and help the custodial parent seek to have those income sources garnished. The attorney can also suggest other methods of enforcement that may be available.

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