Garnishing Social Security Checks To Pay Back Child Support

divorce lawyer Daniel ExnerQuestion:

I owe back child support payments due to an arrearage building up when my children were younger and I was unable to pay.

Recently, the child support agency has notified me of my outstanding balance for past child support obligations, even though my children are in their 40s now.

Since I am now retired, can the state intercept and garnish my social security payments for purposes of paying off my child support arrears?


Since I am only licensed to practice law in Wisconsin, I can only provide you with general divorce help for men to your divorce question.

Child support and maintenance (alimony) obligations are one of the few debts that are not dischargeable under the bankruptcy code or any other legal process.

An individual who incurs a child support or maintenance debt will remain responsible for that debt until it is satisfied in full. State governments, via their child support enforcement offices, possess the same remedies as any creditor to collect on an outstanding debt.

Generally, under Section 207 of the Social Security Act, social security benefits are exempt from attachment, levy, execution or garnishment. There are, however, two exceptions.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

The Secretary of the Treasury may seize benefits to satisfy an outstanding tax obligation and either a state agency or an individual claimant may garnish benefits to satisfy an outstanding child support or maintenance obligation. See 42 U.S.C. § 659 and Social Security Ruling 79-4.

Read Related Articles:

Child Support Wage Garnishments

Where I practice, there is a 20-year statute of limitations on child support arrearage collection that begins as soon as the child turns 18. This period may be tolled if the state attempts to collect on the arrearage.

If your state has not gone after you for collection in the past, and your children are over the age of 38, the state may be precluded from garnishing your social security benefits to pay child support.

Please keep in mind that I am unable to provide you with specific advice on divorce. If you would like more advice on divorce concerning child support laws, contact a mens divorce attorney near you.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located nationwide. To schedule an appointment with a divorce attorney, including Daniel Exner, a Staff Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office, please contact Cordell & Cordell.

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16 comments on “Garnishing Social Security Checks To Pay Back Child Support

    My son dead beat dad has never payed me child support he was order to pay the Attorney General Office weren’t no help the never enforced him to pay.
    Now he is recovering his Social Security can my back child support be taking out of his Social Security Checks

    Yes that 20 year rule is complete crap. If the deadbeat dad gets ssi, what percentage of his check will i get in Missouri and how do they send it to you? I have not heard anything, and my son said hes getting it august 1?

    Ssi retirement benefits can be garnished for current child support or arrears. Ssi for low income or disabled cannot be garnished.

    BTW – If you owe child support arrears and after such a long time have not sent the money to cover arrears you are a criminal. Parents who are abandoned or are gypped out of child support by their spouse are hurt the same way an armed robber hurts their victim. Only worse because ultimately the perpetrator’s own child is the one who has to live with less funding for their formative years, live with a parent who is conflicted about the other parent for very good reasons (Like they are stealing money from the custodial parent.), and in the best of circumstances the child has to grow up with one parent either evading or lying by omission about the devastating actions of the non-custodial parent.

    My advice: Grow a pair. Amend your behavior. Send your child’s custodial parent a monthly amount that will move you towards compliance. Reach out to your adult children and the custodial parent and apologize for any trauma your actions may have caused them. Get on the good foot, old feeble Dead-Beat-Dads can find ways to become men.

    I owe chill support in arrears..I get social security benefits cannot be garnished however can they remove money from my bank account

    Your social security retirement or social security disability CAN be garnished fo back support…up to 65% of your monthly benefit. If you are drawing SSI, that can not be garnished.

    This nothing more then fraud committed by the State.The only thing they care about is the money. You must understand the State is always in arrears with their payments. This gives them interest on their collected accounts. I’am in the same boat no matter what proof you have they ignore you.

    I am a single mom with a 6yr old daughter who receives survivor benefits due to her dad passing away. He was getting disability benefits when he died. So I also pay child support for my son who lives with his dad and I am behind due to not being able to make too much money or they will take me and my daughter medicaid. Now besides taking what they can from my little pay checks child support sent me a letter trying to take child support payments out of my daughters survivor benefits. Can they take from a child which I pay all my bills from her survivor benefits. Its not right if its allowed to cause my little girl to possibly become homeless. Please help

    As a retired senior, is there a limit amount for garnishing my social security if it is all I have to survive on and I have no other benefits, assets, work or savings?
    I have been paying child arrears for over 30 years.
    I am 71, in poor physical health and my son is almost 50 and very well off. When my son’s mother (my ex ) and his step father died, he became the executor of his mother’s estate (which included an $800,000 home). My son, the new obligee, was now entitled for $150 per month to be sent to him, but he got greedy. He requested an increase in court and this NJ judge complied and she ordered me to pay 37% of my $1,335 check for child arrears to my son. This leaves me with $841.05 per month to live on. Not being able to afford an attorney, I spoke on my behalf to the judge to reconsider but it fell on deaf ears. I can’t afford this amount! What can I do as a senior citizen, because I believe my rights, in this respect, were ignored and have been cruelly violated .

    Unless your state has a law that states differently then the court can garnish up to 65% of your social security retirement or disability check to cover child support arrears over 12 weeks past due. It does not matter how old your son is or how much money he has. The child support is technically owed to his mother and there is no statute of limitations on the money. People live on less than $841.05 a month. Consider yourself lucky that the judge didn’t award the entire 65% as I feel they should have. You obviously weren’t worried about how your ex was making it years ago when you were ignoring the child support order. Karma

    If there has been active attempts to collect past due child support, how does the 20 year rule apply? Does the non-paying ex-spouse then get off Scott Free after 20 years, even though they may owe over $100,00 in arrears ? How does this apply to interest that has accrued ?

    I was ordered to pay child support in WI. back in 1981. The custodial parent moved to TN. I moved to GA. Ga. and TN filed a URESA pkg, I since have paid TN. However, WI continues to this date wanting me to pay over $16,000.00 in child support. When is this going to end. I have been in contact with them all these years. Sending them every thing I have to prove it has all been paid. But they just continue to ignore my information. Now the custodial parent is deceased. They still won’t close the case!

    Same thing is happening to me but it is West Virginia that is doing it. I have sent them everything you can imagine and they still don’t listen. Now my social security backpay was garnished. They took $18,861.70 to pay for arrearages of $1936.30. I don’t know where the rest of the money is and social security office or child support cant seem to find it right now. The sad thing is I have been working with Ky child support (whom done their job right) and WV to get this fixed but WV will not listen no matter what. So now I am screwed out of a much needed 19 grand pretty much. I don’t see how this is legal.

    Rusty it’s because they are a bunch of legal crooks, they say that we are dead beat dad’s, but the truth is it’s the dead beat courts, they call it child support, but they care less about the kid’s, I have been dealing with these crooks for 35 years and I’m still paying money that I don’t owe, and no matter what you do to let them know but they just don’t care, I am on SSI and the law states that they cannot take your money, but they did it anyway, and all along they garnished my paycheck and turn around and tell me I have a warrant out for my a rest for not paying child support, and get this they are garnishing all of my checks, and I send them my check stubs to prove that I’m paying and again they don’t care, I was supposed to have visitation rights and I never got to see my kids for 11 year’s and I payed out thousands of dollars to get what I already had and was order by the court’s the right to see my kids, but again they did nothing about it, and I did everything I was supposed to do, I even kept insurance on them, Medical and dental, and still when she would take them to the doctor and dentist they came after me to make me pay it out of my pocket when I had insurance on them again they don’t care, and I fought with these people with everyday I knew how, because they kept destroying my life and still are with no money to fight these crooks, I was trying to kill myself, and the truth is they owe me over $20,000 dollars or closer to $30,000, I feel for you buddy becuses I no what your going though…..

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