How can I collect the child support/alimony my ex-spouse was ordered to provide in our divorce decree or separation agreement?
For child support, you might want to contact either an attorney or your local child support enforcement agency to obtain an Income Deduction Order or Income Withholding Order. For alimony, you might want to contact an attorney to obtain a garnishment. To collect the support/alimony you were ordered to receive, we need an order from a court or child support enforcement agency (CSEA) that directs the government to pay monies for support or alimony. You do not need to send the underlying order, (e.g., a divorce/separation decree).
As a child support enforcement worker, how can I collect the fees to which my agency is entitled for processing child support income withholding orders?
The federal regulation amended the definition of "child support" to include such items as court costs, administrative fees, and attorneys’ fees. Those items can now be collected if the withholding order directs as such.
Can I collect a child support/alimony arrearage?
Yes, if the withholding order directs the collection of an arrearage (overdue child support or alimony payment). The arrearage will be paid within the limits the law allows, as discussed below.
How can I enforce an order for the non-custodial parent to provide health insurance coverage for our child?
Send a copy of the order directing the provision of coverage to the non-custodial parent's personnel office. Do not send these orders to DFAS-HGA/CL because we cannot process them. Please see Medical Support from Military Personnel for more information
Must I serve the child support income withholding order or alimony garnishment order on your office by certified mail, return receipt requested?
No, you may serve child support income withholding orders or alimony garnishments on DFAS Cleveland Garnishment Law Directorate by regular United States mail or fax. There is no longer a requirement that child support orders be served upon us by certified mail.
Why am I not receiving the full amount of the ordered child support/alimony?
There are many reasons you might not be receiving the full ordered amount of child support/alimony from the income withholding, but the most common reason is the payor does not have sufficient disposable earnings to allow the deduction of the full amount. The Consumer Credit Protection Act (15 U.S.C. § 1673) limits the amount that can be deducted as child support/alimony from earnings. The limit ranges from 50 percent to 65 percent of disposable earnings. The full ordered amount of child support/alimony will be deducted as long as that amount does not exceed the maximum percentage allowable. The following is an explanation of when the different maximum percentages apply:
- 50 percent of disposable earnings is the maximum percentage allowable if the obligor provides proof that he/she is providing more than half the support of dependents other than those for whom the support is to be deducted, and if the payor has not accrued an arrearage.
- 55 percent of disposable earnings is the maximum percentage allowable if the obligor provides proof that he/she is providing more than half the support of dependents other than for those whom the support is to be deducted, and if the payor has accrued an arrearage.
- 60 percent of disposable earnings is the maximum percentage allowable if the obligor has not provided proof that he/she is providing more than half the support of dependents other than those for whom the support is to be deducted, and if the payor has not accrued an arrearage.
- 65 percent of disposable earnings is the maximum percentage allowable if the obligor has not provided proof that he/she is providing more than half the support of dependents other than those for whom the support is to be deducted, and if the payor has accrued an arrearage.
REMEMBER: THE PERCENTAGE AMOUNTS WILL ONLY BE DEDUCTED IF THE PAYOR DOES NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT DISPOSABLE EARNINGS TO ALLOW FOR THE FULL ORDERED AMOUNT TO BE DEDUCTED.
Must I include the obligor's social security number when I serve a child support income withholding order or alimony garnishment?
Yes. Without the social security number of the obligor, we will not be able to process the child support income withholding order or alimony garnishment.
What happens if there are multiple child support income withholding orders in effect against the pay of the same obligor?
If the obligor has sufficient available disposable earnings, we will authorize the payment for the full amounts of all orders. If there is insufficient available disposable earnings, and the Consumer Credit Protection Act limitations become applicable, federal law mandates that we allocate the available disposable earnings so that a pro rata (or proportionate) share of the available earnings is paid toward each obligation. The pro rata shares are calculated by dividing the amounts of each order by the total amount of disposable earnings available to determine what percentage of the available disposable earnings will be paid toward each obligation. Our pro rata calculation process is very similar to the allocation procedures followed by most states and U.S. Territories. Allocating ensures that all children are at least partially provided for by the obligor.
What happens when there are multiple child support orders for the same obligation?
In cases where we can determine from the information provided in both orders that both are ordering payment for the same child(ren) and payable to the same payee, we will honor the most recently served order.
Does your office charge a fee for withholding for child support/alimony obligations?
No. This office does not charge a fee for honoring income withholding orders for child support/alimony or child support/alimony arrearages.
How do I stop child support payments when my child is graduating from high school and past the legal age of majority in my state?
The answer depends on the method used to start the payment. If the payment is made because an income withholding order was issued by a child support enforcement agency (CSEA) then in most cases, you will have to contact that particular agency to have them send us a termination order.
If we are issuing payments from a retired military member’s retired pay based on an application made under the authority of the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act, (USFSPA), 10 U.S.C. § 1408, then a review of the language in the divorce decree that sets forth the child support obligation may be determinative. Please see the Stopping Child Support and Alimony
page for more information.
Why does my child support stop when the obligor goes from active duty to retired status?
Child support obligations can be garnished from the pay of active duty military personnel. Although we are notified when a member retires, it can take 30 to 60 days for the Office of Retired Pay to create the retired pay account. We can’t start payments until the retired pay account is established, so there may be a delay in payment. If you are a member about to retire and have a support obligation that needs to continue, please call 888-DFAS-411 (332-7411). If you are the person receiving the funds and you know the member is about to retire, please contact us. As always, please include the member's SSN on all correspondence.