How to Garnish Social Security Benefits for Back Child Support

by Angela M. Wheeland

    If a family court orders a child's parent to pay child support, he is required to follow the court order or risk a contempt of court charge. Most government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or unemployment compensation, are exempt from garnishments by regular creditors, but the government allows the garnishment of Social Security benefits for child support. If the other parent is behind in child support and receives Social Security benefits, you can request the court to garnish his benefits to pay for any back and current child support obligation.

    Step 1

    Locate the original child support order. If the court established a support order during a divorce, you can find this information in the divorce decree. If you were not married to the child's parent, the court should have provided you with an order for support.

    Step 2

    Determine approximately how much your child's other parent is behind in child support. The child support order should outline the terms of the support, including an amount and duration, which might be weekly, biweekly or monthly. For example, if the other parent must pay $100 in child support every week and has not paid support in six months, she is behind $2,600, or 26 weeks multiplied by $100.

    Step 3

    Contact the court that originally ordered the child support and ask about filing a motion for contempt. Explain that the other parent is behind in support and provide the estimated amount of arrears. The court will set up a formal court hearing. Some courts might allow you to request a hearing over the phone or through the mail. Ask about the proper procedure for your state or county.

    Step 4

    Appear at the court hearing and provide the arrearage amount to the court. If child support payments are paid through the clerk of courts, the court should have records of this information, but you should come prepared.

    Step 5

    Request a judgment for garnishment. The judge will ask about the other parent's Social Security benefits and order the garnishment.

    Step 6

    File the judgment for garnishment with the Social Security Administration if the court does not file for you. Send the order by certified mail to: General Counsel, Social Security Administration Room 611, Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Boulevard Baltimore, MD 21235

    Tip

    • SSI benefits are not subject to garnishment for child support.

    Photo Credits

    • Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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