Does Child Support Services Trump A Court Order?


My ex-wife and I have a child support order set up through the court, which included arrears for the time between our temporary and final divorce orders. I was out of work for a couple of months, but now that I am employed, Child Support Enforcement has added an additional $550 a month to my child support.


Does CSE super cede a court order? This was not requested by my ex-wife, and she states that she is fine with the current amount. I don’t have a problem adding a reasonable amount to the current payments to make up for the time I was unemployed, but I think $550 more a month is excessive. Not to mention the fact that I can’t afford it. Can I enforce the actual court order, or maybe even another avenue to reduce the amount? My case worker from CSE has been completely uncooperative.





All states were required to implement various child support enforcement mechanisms as part of federal law, which include adding an additional amount to the “regular” child support to pay off any arrearage.   Generally, the additional amount is a percentage of the “regular” amount (often 20% of the regular support amount) and the total child support withheld from paychecks is limited to generally applicable federal and state wage garnishment percentages.  The laws provide that child support and the additional arrearage payments may be set by an administrative order by the state agency responsible for child support enforcement (usually part of the public assistance programs) or by a court.  If the amount is set by a state agency, there may have been a notice of an appeal process with deadlines.


You do not provide the amounts of your regular support and the amount of the past due support, but an additional $550 per month is a high amount for a 20% additional payment on a past due amount.  In addition, some states distinguish between an “arrearage” being the failure to pay an amount when due, and a “retroactive adjustment” which is due to a recalculation and not from the failure to pay as previously ordered.  When a retroactive adjustment is made, the payment schedule for the amount resulting from the retroactive adjustment should be included in the order making the retroactive adjustment.  Similarly, an arrearage may be subject to accumulating interest, while a retroactive adjustment may be without interest accruing on the unpaid amounts.


You will need to file an administrative appeal or seek court intervention to resolve the matter.  You should review the status of your support orders with an experienced domestic litigation attorney, such as the Cordell & Cordell offices in your state.



Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.


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