Income Withholding Orders
August 14, 2013 § 6 Comments
Child support is generally paid directly to the recipient parent, or to DHS in cases where that agency has filed an action.
But did you know that federal law requires that child support must be collected by directing employers to withhold income, and that a certain prescribed form, referred to as an Income Withholding Order (IWO), must be entered in every child support case, except in certain circumstances that are mentioned below?
The federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 required the entry of IWO’s in all child support cases entered on or after January 1, 1994.
Every IWO must direct payments to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). Payments may not be directed to an individual. An IWO that directs payments to an individual is required to be rejected. Mississippi does, by the way, have its own SDU.
Also, effective May 31, 2012, every IWO must be on the form prescribed by the Office of Management and Budget. You can access a fillable version of the form by clicking this link. Instructions for completing the form, with a link to a .pdf version, are at this link. Employers are directed in their instruction material to return any IWO that is not in the prescribed form.
The law mandates that the income of the paying parent shall be subject to income withholding on the effective date of the order, without regard to whether the parent is in arrears in payments. It is for collection of all child support, and not limited to collection of arrearages.
The only exception to child support withholding is set out in § 486(a)(8)(B)(i) of the Social Security Act, which allows direct payment in two cases:
- Where one of the parents demonstrates, and the court finds, that there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding; or
- The parents have a written agreement for an alternative arrangement.
The original IWO forms that went into use in the 1990’s (then referred to as “Wage Withholding Orders” or WWHO) were either effective immediately or could be made effective at a later date. That feature is eliminated, since all orders are now effective immediately on entry.
Also, if you are still using WWHO forms from the 1990’s, your forms are hopelessly antiquated. You must switch over to the IWO form referred to above.
In my experience, there are districts around the state where IWO’s are unknown. Why DHS has not made it a priority to see that the law is widely implemented is a mystery. Or maybe they have, in places where I have not been able to observe.
We have used WWHO’s in this district since the early 1990’s. Mandatory withholding, however, is rare in this district; my guess is that only two to three percent of cases employ it. I have not seen an IWO on the latest form since they went into effect in May of last year; all the withholding forms I see are old WWHO forms.