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.

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

    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 .

    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!

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