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Child support nonpayment and Social Security

In some cases, a Texas custodial parent will be owed child support from a non-custodial parent who either simply fails to pay or falls significantly behind. If the paying parent is not working, it may be a good idea to determine whether he or she is receiving Social Security benefits. As it turns out, there are types of Social Security benefits that can be garnished to collect delinquencies.

The only kind of Social Security payments that cannot be garnished are those derived from Supplemental Security Income. Since SSI is geared to low-income disabled people as well as adults over 65 with limited means, it is treated as a form of welfare and as such, is not subject to garnishment. Other Social Security amounts, including retirement benefits and Social Security Disability, may be garnished, however. They are based on credits the beneficiary earned by paying into the system and are thus deemed to be earned.

In order to secure a garnishment, the custodial parent should file a motion for income withholding with the appropriate court, usually the one that issued the original child support order. Upon a showing to the court that child support is owed and has not been received, the court will in most cases issue a garnishment order. The parent can then take that order to the Social Security Administration to initiate withholding.

Child support delinquencies that continue to accrue should not be ignored. A person who is having difficulty paying the ordered amount due to a change in financial circumstances may want to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney. It is sometimes possible to seek a modification of the child support order when this is the case, but those who are seeking one must understand that even if it is granted, any change in the amount will only apply to future payments. All past due amounts will still be owed in full and will not be affected by the modification.

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