Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Our decree calls for an issue of a wage assignment when my ex misses support payments so do I have to get a separate order?

Question: My husband just received custody of his 14-year-old son from a previous marriage. The court order was issued for custody, visitation and child support. 

In the order, it specifically states if his ex wife misses two child support payments then a wage assignment will be issued. Payments are currently being made through the child support registry. She has missed two payments now, and the child support registry says they need a court order to do a wage assignment but they refuse to follow the one we have. 

Do we really need to go back to court to get a new court order?

 

Answer:

If the order that modified custody, parenting time and child support did not include an income withholding order, then, yes, you will need to obtain a new income withholding order to begin the wage assignment. This is because an employer is under no legal duty to withhold an employee’s pay (indeed, may commit a state offense for doing so!) for child support unless instructed. The income withholding order should specify the amount to withhold, when to begin the withholding, when to end the withholding, and where to send the withholding. 

For states like Colorado that participate in the federal Title IV services program, this is a standardized form. Having the court enter it as an order is not the burdensome “trip back to the court” (as you put it) that support payees imagine. You can locate the form online. With proper attorney overview, you should be able to complete the form in less than an hour. Be sure to contact your support administrator to learn where to send the form for the court’s review and entry and, upon entry, how to send the form to the employer to begin the withholding. Before you begin, you might also contact the support administrator to learn whether your husband has a support caseworker who can complete the form for him. Michigan support payees have caseworkers, but not all states use them.

You can learn more about wage assignments and other child support enforcement options online at http://childsupport.state.co.us

Keep in mind that I am a Michigan attorney and cannot give you detailed advice about the laws in Colorado. You should not rely on this answer as establishing an attorney-client relationship, and you should contact an attorney in your area immediately for additional information. Cordell & Cordell, P.C. does have offices in Colorado, and we will be happy to discuss your case in detail.

 

Jennifer M. Paine is an Associate Attorney in the Detroit, Michigan office of Cordell & Cordell P.C. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims. Ms. Paine received her BA in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

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