Enforce an orderOnce a child support order exists, Child Support Services can help ensure it is followed. Federal and state governments provide Idaho Child Support Services several ways to make sure child support is paid. Using an automated computer system, Child Support Services tracks how much child support is owed and paid for each case based on the order. When a parent is behind in child support payments, Child Support Services attempts to work with the parent obligated to pay support.
Some enforcement remedies occur automatically based on instructions from a judge included in an order. Other enforcement remedies are initiated when payments are not received. Child Support Services determines which of the following actions to use in an attempt to facilitate support for a child based on the court order:
- Income Withholding
- Garnishing Accounts
- Credit Reporting
- Intercepting Lottery Winnings
- Intercepting Federal Tax Refunds
- Intercepting State Tax Refunds
- Withholding Federal Benefits and Retirement Accounts
- Suspending Licenses
- Filing Liens
- Intercepting PERSI Retirement Benefits
- Passport Denials
- Establishing Judgments
- Contempt Action
- Federal Prosecution
Income withholding is the most convenient and successful way to ensure child support is paid. Employers and other agencies can withhold child support from a parent's income and send it to Child Support Services. Many court orders contain language requiring Child Support Services to request that income is withheld through an employer or government agency. Income withholding automatically begins when Child Support Services receives information about a parent's employment, unemployment benefits, or Social Security Disability benefits
The amount deducted from each pay period is based on the amount due each month, unpaid support owed from previous months, and pay frequency.
The three most common types of income withholding Child Support Services accepts are:
- Direct payments through employers (wage withholding)
- Unemployment withholding
- Social Security Disability withholding
Direct payments through employersMost Idaho child support orders and many orders from other states now contain language regarding "automatic and immediate wage withholding." When this language exists in an order, Child Support Services is required to request a direct payment from employers. When a parent is ordered to pay child support, employers deduct the appropriate amount and sends it directly to Child Support Services. Child Support Services can use up to 50% of wages to apply to current child support obligations.
The amount deducted from each pay period is based on the amount due each month, unpaid support owed from previous months, and pay frequency. For instance, if someone is paid every other week, the employer divides the yearly support by 26 pay periods instead of splitting the support into 12 distinct months. Otherwise, the support amount due each month is split across 12 distinct months.
Before initiating an income withholding order, and when you have provided your email address to Child Support Services, you receive an email to confirm the monthly amount paid towards past-due support is appropriate for your situation. If you have not provided an email address, you receive a letter after the withholding has been sent to your employer. If you wish to adjust the amount set aside for past-due support, please email us at CSWagePayments@dhw.idaho.gov or call 1-800-356-9868 so we can negotiate an appropriate withholding.
Why is wage withholding great for you and your family?
- It is convenient. Many parents find it convenient when their employers directly send child support, so they don't have to remember to write a check each month to meet their obligations.
- Wage withholding is consistent. Children are supported by receiving consistent child support payments.
- While employers directly send child support payments to CSS, CSS does not pursue many enforcement actions (e.g. license suspension, revoking a passport, contempt, etc.), even if a past support balance would otherwise qualify the case.
- It gets child support to your children quickly.
- It ensures accurate payment records. CSS keeps an accurate record of the payments for each case. You can access your payment history online at childsupport.idaho.gov.
Unemployment withholdingChild support is due each month, regardless of a parent's employment status. When an employment situation changes, please let us know immediately.
When an individual receives unemployment in Idaho, this information is automatically provided to Child Support Services. Child Support Services can use up to 50% of the weekly benefit to help you stay current on your child support obligations. This can take from four to six weeks to arrange. Child Support Services notifies a parent before withholding unemployment benefits to pay child support.
If you would like to arrange to have your unemployment benefits automatically applied to your monthly child support obligation, please call 1-800-356-9868. If you do not contact Child Support Services, it may appear that you are unwilling to pay, and Child Support Services may initiate actions to enforce an order. By calling Child Support Services, we can work with you to provide options that may prevent issues until you can get back on your feet.
Social Security withholdingWhen an individual is unable to work due to disability or is retired, Child Support Services may deduct income from Social Security Disability (SSD) or retirement payments. Child Support Services is not authorized to deduct income from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or veterans disability recipients.
When an individual receives a benefit from Social Security, this information is automatically provided to Child Support Services. Child Support Services can use up to 50% of your Social Security benefit to help you stay current on your child support obligations.
In instances where a child receives Social Security benefits on behalf of the parent ordered to pay support, it may be appropriate to request to change an order to allow credit for the benefits the child receives.
If you would like to arrange to have your Social Security benefits automatically applied to your monthly child support obligation, or to request to change an order, please call 1-800-356-9868.
A parent's accounts, assets, and investments may be garnished and used to pay past due child support. Garnishments must be issued by a court.
In Idaho, accounts, assets, and investments may be garnished in the following situations:
- The parent is at least three months (not counting the current month) or $2000 behind in child support, and
- Child Support Services is aware of a parent's accounts, assets, or investments.
Child support debts are automatically reported to credit agencies when a parent owes the equivalent of three months child support payments.
Reporting child support debts damages a parent's credit rating and affects his or her ability to secure financing. This makes buying or refinancing a home, buying a car, or obtaining credit cards more difficult.
I'm paying my child support, but my credit report shows that I am not. What do I do?If your credit report shows that you are not paying your child support obligations when you are, you need to file a dispute with the credit reporting bureau. Consumer dispute forms are available on the credit agency's web site. For your convenience, the following list provides links to some common credit reporting agencies' dispute forms:
Intercepting lottery winnings
Idaho Lottery winnings can be intercepted and used to pay child support debts. If a parent wins $500.00 or more from the lottery, the money is used to pay past-due child support. The parent must owe past-due child support for the lottery winnings to be intercepted.
Intercepting Federal tax refunds
When a parent obligated to pay support is entitled to a Federal tax refund and owes more than $500.00 in past-due child support, the Federal tax refund money is sent to Child Support Services. If a child is eligible for cash assistance and an obligated parent owes more than $150.00, then Federal tax refunds are intercepted.
A letter from the Department of Treasury notifies the parent obligated to pay support that the tax refund is being held.
How long are Federal tax refunds held before being applied to my case?Single Federal tax refunds are held for 30 days to allow for processing. Joint tax returns are held up to six months to allow the parent's spouse to file an Injured Spouse and Allocation Form (8379) with the IRS. This form prompts the IRS to make a determination of how much, if any, of the funds should be sent to the injured spouse. If the claim is denied and you wish to protest, call a Federal Tax Advocate at 1-877-777-4778.
Can I apply my Federal tax refund to my case immediately?Single Federal returns are applied after 30 days.
To apply a joint tax refund to a case sooner than the processing period, the parent obligated to pay support completes an Affidavit and Waiver. Call 1-800-356-9868 to request a copy of the form. The Affidavit and Waiver must be notarized to be valid. Once this form is received by Child Support Services, the funds are released. If the review determines that the Federal tax return was held in error, it can take an additional two weeks for the IRS to release the funds.
How are Federal tax refunds applied to my case?Funds collected through a Federal tax refund apply to debts owed to the State of Idaho first, because these debts are usually monies previously paid to a parent by the state. If state debts do not exist, the Federal tax refund is released to pay any past-due support.
What if the parent receiving the Federal tax refund lives in another state?If the parent ordered to receive support lives in another state and your case is being enforced by another child support agency, that state intercepts the Federal tax refund.
Intercepting state tax refunds
When a parent obligated to pay support is entitled to a State tax refund and owes more than $25 in past-due child support, the State tax refund money is sent to Child Support Services.
A letter from the State Tax Commission notifies the parent that the tax refund is being held. This paperwork contains information on how to request an administrative review.
This money can be used to pay current and past-due child support.
How long are state tax refunds held?State tax refunds are held for 30 days. This allows time for the parties to file for an administrative review prior to an offset. A request for an administrative review can be faxed to 208-332-7367 or sent via mail within 14 days to be considered. Only half of a joint return can be released, regardless of who made the income (per Idaho code 56-203D (1) (E)).
Can I apply my state tax refund to my case immediately?To apply a tax refund to a case sooner than the processing period, the parent obligated to pay support calls 1-800-356-9868.
What if the parent receiving the state tax refund lives in another state?If the parent ordered to receive support lives in another state, Idaho sends the State tax refund directly to the other parent or to another state to distribute to the other parent. Whether the payment is sent directly is based on the types of services that have been requested from Child Support Services.
Similarly, if another state intercepts a tax return, a State tax refund is sent to the parent ordered to receive support either from the state where the other parent lives or through Idaho Child Support Services.
Withholding Federal benefits and Federal retirement accounts
Federal benefits and Federal retirement accounts can be used to pay child support debts. This is referred to as the Federal Administrative Offset program. These accounts can only be used to pay past-due amounts. Child Support Services is alerted when a parent ordered to pay support receives Federal benefits or Federal retirement.
Child Support Services begins the process to suspend a parent's drivers, occupational, or Fish and Game license when he or she owes more than $2000.00 or the equivalent of three months of child support.
A license is reinstated or the process to suspend a license is stopped when the parent makes and pays according to a verbal or written repayment agreement with Child Support Services. The parent must comply with the terms of the repayment agreement or Child Support Services will once again begin the process to suspend his or her license(s).
What kinds of licenses can be suspended?Child Support Services can suspend many types of licenses. These fall into three main categories:
- Drivers licenses (including commercial drivers licenses)
- Recreational licenses (including hunting tags or permits)
- Occupational licenses (over 350 licenses including plumbing, electrical, and real estate)
If my license is suspended, what do I have to do to get it back?If a license is suspended, Child Support Services requires that all past-due balances are paid current, income withholding is set up through an employer, or an ongoing payment agreement meeting current support and some towards the past-due balance is agreed upon by Child Support Services with an associated payment. Call 1-800-356-9868 to make an arrangement with a case manager.
Once a parent meets one of the criteria listed in the last paragraph, or when a parent makes consistent payments for six months, Child Support Services contacts the parent and the licensing agency to lift a suspension. To determine what is required to lift a suspension for a particular license, contact the licensing agency for further instructions. Some agencies require a full application (including fees) before returning a license, while others will reinstate the license without charge.
When Child Support Services files a lien against a parent, profits from the sale of any Idaho property (real estate) may be intercepted to pay past-due child support. Liens are removed only when child support debts are completely paid or when the child support case is closed.
Liens are filed when a parent owes $2000.00 or the equivalent of three months child support.
All liens are filed with the Idaho Secretary of State. When a lien is filed, the non-custodial parent is notified about the lien.
Intercepting PERSI retirement benefits
When a parent owing child support receives PERSI retirement benefits through the State of Idaho or withdraws Idaho retirement funds, Child Support Services can intercept the payment to pay past-due child support. The parent must owe past due support before PERSI retirement benefits are intercepted.
Passport applications are denied when a parent owes more than $2500.00 in child or spousal support. Once the denial is in place, the entire amount due must be paid before the denial is lifted and the passport issued. Exceptions may apply. If a parent already has a passport, there is no way to revoke it. If an existing passport is lost, stolen, or needs to be renewed, the passport is denied until the past-due amount is paid. If you wish to discuss passport information, please call 1-800-356-9868.
When enforcement actions fail to ensure compliance with the court ordered child support obligation, the next step may be to refer the case to a Child Support Services attorney for contempt action. In accordance with Idaho statute 7-610 and Idaho Civil Rules of Procedure 75, contempt action requires a parent to appear in court to explain to the judge why he or she has failed to comply with the order to support his or her children.
When Child Support Services pursues contempt, the parent required to appear in court is notified. If a Child Support Services attorney requires assistance from the parent ordered to receive support, an attorney contacts the parent with specific questions.
A judge can sign an order totaling past-due child support, day care costs, medical support, and other debts. The past-due amount is referred to as a judgment. Once a judgment is recorded with the Clerk of the Court, Child Support Services can use other enforcement tools to make sure the judgment is paid when an order supports payment through Child Support Services.
Child Support Services can help to establish a judgment in certain situations; however, some situations require that a private attorney help to establish a judgment. If you wish to discuss a judgment, please call 1-800-356-9868.
The Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 makes it a Federal crime to willfully fail to pay a past-due child support obligation for a child living in another state. Under the felony provision of the Act, the past-due obligation must be at least $10,000 or must have remained unpaid for more than 2 years. Under the misdemeanor provision of the Act, the past-due child support obligation must be greater than $5000 or must have remained unpaid for more than 1 year. The penalty for failure to pay support for a child living in another state is punishable by up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine. Second and subsequent violations are punishable by two years imprisonment and/or a fine.
The U.S. Attorney's office will not accept a referral for cases with a past-due obligation that only meets the minimum qualifications. Because only a few cases are accepted each year, only cases that have a past-due obligation of at least $20,000 and have remained unpaid for more than 2 years are referred.
If you wish to discuss Federal prosecution, please call 1-800-356-9868.