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Seeking child support payments from Social Security benefits

Some Pennsylvania custodial parents have difficulty obtaining the child support money that they were awarded. In some cases, the custodial parent may be able to collect back payments from other resources, including the noncustodial parent's Social Security benefits.

If an ex-spouse is receiving Social Security benefits but is refusing to pay the child support that they owe, the custodial parent may request that the office garnish those benefits. Before this can happen, however, the custodial parent must go before a judge and provide proof that the noncustodial parent has failed to pay child support or still owes back child support. The judge must then issue an income withholding order, which can then be used to have the noncustodial parent's benefits garnished.

Once the income withholding order is filed with the Social Security office, a percentage of the benefits will be withheld each month. However, it should be noted that the Social Security agency can only legally withhold up to 65 percent of the benefits. If the noncustodial parent is supporting other children, for example, the withholding amount may be less. Further, the garnishments can only be made if the noncustodial parent is collecting benefits; if they are not currently collecting benefits, the income withholding order will remain on file for use should they begin collecting again.

Because so many custodial parents rely on child support to help raise their children, it can be frustrating and nerve-racking when a noncustodial parent fails to or refuses to pay child support. A family law attorney can potentially help a custodial parent seek other ways to obtain the child support that they are owed. In some cases, this may mean requesting that the noncustodial parent's income be garnished or requesting that the court take action.

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