Wage Withholding

What does the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support require me to do?

Provide the named employee with a copy of the Order/Notice and the blank Request for Hearing form within 10 days of receipt, per FC 5234. Begin to withhold money from the employee’s net disposable earnings (but no more than 50% of the net disposable) no later than 10 days after receipt, per FC 5233. This usually means you begin deductions at the next pay period after receipt. Send payment to DCSS within 7 working days. Do not wait until the end of the month to send in the support to DCSS, per 42 USC 666. Provide the following information.

  • Employee's full name
  • Employee's social security number
  • Court order/case number
  • Amount withheld from each employee
  • Date withheld
  • CCSAS (California Child Support Automation System) case number

The CCSAS case number can be obtained by calling the SDU at 1-866-901-3212. If this CCSAS identifier is not included on the payment information sent to the SDU, it will delay the processing of payments and may cause the payments to be allocated to other cases.

If the employee has more than one Order/Notice, divide the support assignments equitably, per FC 5238.

Note that no employer may use an Order/Notice as grounds for refusing to hire a person or for taking disciplinary action against an employee. A civil penalty could be imposed up to $500, per FC 5290.

Other forms you will receive:

  • A cover letter with instructions for how to implement wage withholding.
  • Declaration of Service by Mail,
  • Request for Hearing Regarding Wage and Earnings Assignment and information sheet.
  • A letter for employers to inform DCSS should the employee leave employment. Notify DCSS no later than the date of the next payment and provide the employee’s last known address, and, if known, the name and address of the new employer, per FC 5282.

Where do I send the support I withhold?

If the Order/Notice was sent to you by the Shasta County DCSS, send payments to:

State Disbursement Unit
P.O. Box 989067
West Sacramento, CA 95798

Other County and State DCSS’s have different addresses to send the money. If you receive an Order/Notice from a child support agency in another state, please send the payments directly to the other State so that your employee’s payments can be properly posted and an accurate payment history can be kept for the benefit of your employee.

What if the name and social security number do not match my employee?

Please call DCSS first to check whether there is a typo or error in the number or name that can be easily fixed. If your employee’s ID has been stolen and he/she is not the right person, we can usually match your employee to a photograph of the person we are trying to find. The best way to resolve mistaken identity cases is in the DCSS office. The employee also can file a motion in court to quash the wage assignment using the Request for Hearing form.

Do I need to tell DCSS the date I withheld the payment?

Yes. The withholding date, also known as the Legal Date of Collection (LDC). This date is vital to DCSS for accurate accounting and MUST be included on the check or check stub. The date is required so DCSS can properly distribute payments.

If you provide the LDC, we capture that date and your employee is not charged interest for a "late" payment. For example, if the payment was deducted from the employee’s check in May but not sent until June, if the LDC were provided we would post it to the May date.

I have several employees with Order/Notices. May I combine all of their child support in one check?

Yes. You may combine support withholdings for each county into one consolidated check. You must include an itemized accounting providing name, social security number, court order/case number, amount withheld,date withheld and CCSAS case number, per FC 5236 and FC 5282.

The Order/Notice doesn’t have a judge’s signature. Do I still have to comply with it? Is it based on a court order?

Yes. The Order/Notice is a required form (since January 1, 2000) to be used in all DCSS cases, per FC 5208. This includes any Order/Notice sent from another state, per FC 5230.1. The signature of a judicial officer is not required when the Order/Notice is sent by DCSS, per FC 5246(b). The ongoing child support order is taken from the most recent court order. An arrears payment on an Order/Notice may be based on a court order, but DCSS also has the authority to administratively set an arrears payment, per FC 5246(d).

May I withhold a fee for processing and withholding the child support payments?

Yes. You may deduct $1.50 from the Employee’s earnings for each payment you make, per FC 5235(d). However, the deductions plus the fee may not exceed 50%. Therefore, if the Notice/Order exceeds 50% of net disposable earnings, the $1.50 must be taken from the child support.

Is the Wage Assignment I have still valid?

Yes, it still carries the same force and effect of the Order/Notice, per FC 5202.

What do I do if the employee does not have sufficient earnings to satisfy the Order/Notice?

Priority shall be given towards the current child support obligation (then health care), then current spousal support (if any) and then to the liquidation of child and then spousal support arrears.

Where there are multiple orders for the same employee, you must first add up the total ongoing support obligations. If 50% of the employee’s net disposable earnings will not pay in full all of the assignments for support, you must prorate it first among all of the current support assignments in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total current support owed.

You must apply any remainder to the assignments for arrearage support in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total arrearage owed, per FC 5238.

Some of my employees only work part-time. What do I do if 50% of their net disposable income is less than the withholding amount for the pay period?

You can still only withhold up to 50% of your employee’s net disposable income each month.

Our company’s pay periods are biweekly (there are 26 pay periods per year). How do I compute how much I should deduct?

The Order/Notice includes the amount to withhold if your pay periods are weekly, biweekly (every two weeks), semi-monthly (twice a month) or monthly.

Keep in mind that the child support order specifies a monthly payment and DCSS prefers that it be collected on the first of each month. You are not bound by the computed amounts on the Order/Notice, only the overall figure and the 50% rules. Your employee may voluntarily agree to have child support deducted from the first paycheck of each month despite the 50% rule. This might be preferable with biweekly payments because if you use the pre-calculated per-paycheck deductions, in some months your employees may seem behind in support and in other months, they go into futures. This can cause problems for employees.

What do I do if an employee has other nonsupport income attachments?

Except when an IRS tax lien was served first, or a Chapter 13 Trustee has served a wage withholding order, Federal and State law require child support withholding to take priority over ALL other income attachments. You must withhold the required amount as long as it does not exceed 50% of the employee’s net disposable earnings.

An Order/Notice for support has priority as against any attachment, execution, or other assignment, per CCP 706.031.

What should I do if the employee tells me not to enforce the Order/Notice because it is incorrect?

Payments must continue until further order of the court or notification by DCSS. You, the employer, will be held liable for any amount you fail to withhold and can be cited for contempt of court, per FC 5235(a) and FC 5241.

Your employee should be referred to DCSS with any questions or problems. Employees may also seek private legal counsel and in California may contact their county Family Law Facilitator for no cost legal information and access to the courts (Shasta County Family Law Facilitator 530-245-6900). Your employee may file a request for a court hearing using the form provided, per FC 5246(e).

You as the employer will not be subject to any civil liability for any amount withheld and paid to DCSS pursuant to an Order/Notice, per FC 5247.

What if our employee disagrees with the amount of arrears shown on the wage assignment?

Your employee needs to write, call, or come in to DCSS and we will go over our records to make sure all payments are counted. Written submissions can be sent by mail to P.O. Box 994130, Redding, CA 96099-4130 or by email to childsupport@co.shasta.ca.us. Phone calls are answered Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., at (866) 901-3212. Our office is located at 2600 Park Marina Drive, Redding, CA 96001 and is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

Sometimes DCSS becomes involved in enforcement long after the payments were originally ordered and we may not always have accurate information from other parents or other agencies when we open our case. Your employee may request copies of your pay records showing all the wage withholdings in order to prove that child support was paid in the past.

If DCSS cannot agree with your employee, the employee may wish to file a motion in court to determine the correct amount of arrears. The Family Law Facilitator can provide no cost legal information and help to prepare and file forms needed to get a court date.

What if I receive a new Order/Notice signed by a Judge for the same children as on an Order/Notice from DCSS?

You or your employee should contact DCSS. DCSS should be enforcing child support on the most recent court order. We will need to find out about the new order and whether it is a valid order. Please continue to enforce our Order/Notice until you have heard back from us.

What if the employee quits work or is laid off after I begin withholding child support?

If the employee quits working for you, please complete and mail in the letter provided for you no later than the date of the next payment. If it is a temporary layoff, please write that information on the letter. If it is a short seasonal or weather related layoff, you need not send the letter. DCSS may call you to inquire about a slow down in payments or partial payments.

Keep in mind that if the employee returns to your employment, the Order/Notice is still binding upon you and should be honored, per FC 5231. There is no time limit in the law after which the Order/Notice would become invalid, however, as a general rule; you need not keep it for more than three (3) years.

Is it ok to work with other employers (for example with employment agencies and contractors) when I hire employees from other employers on a temporary basis and I know there is a wage assignment?

Yes, we greatly appreciate and encourage you to work with your employees and their other employers to help your employees comply with their support obligations. DCSS will be glad to fax or mail another copy of the Order/Notice to any and all employers.

What if I terminate my employee after I begin withholding child support?

You have the same duty to report termination that you have if the employee quits. Note: An employer who terminates, disciplines or refuses to hire an employee based upon an income withholding for support faces legal penalties, per FC 5290.

I have been deducting child support from an employee’s wages on an Order/Notice from DCSS. Now I have received a support levy from FTB for 50% of the employee’s wages. What do I do?

If the Order/Notice from DCSS was received first, you should continue to send support to DCSS. You should send the FTB any money remaining up to 50% of net. You should also inform the FTB that you have a prior Order/Notice from DCSS. You may inform DCSS and we may also contact FTB to release their 50% levy.

What if the support levy from FTB was received before the Order/Notice from the County DCSS?

If you receive the 50% levy from the FTB first, you must comply with that order until you receive a release from the FTB. Notify DCSS immediately that you are unable to comply with the Order/Notice because of the FTB levy. DCSS will contact FTB. Begin enforcing the Order/Notice when you receive notice that the FTB levy is lifted.

What if I receive phone calls about the Order/Notice from the other parent?

You may let DCSS know about any problems you experience with a non-employee parent. DCSS will work with the other parent to avoid disruption of the workplace.

What earnings can I use as a source for child support?

Employers can use the following earnings, per FC 5206:

  • Wages, salary, bonuses, vacation pay, retirement pay, regular overtime, and commissions.
  • Payments due for services of independent contractors, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, residuals, patent rights, or mineral or other natural resource rights.
  • Payments or credits due or becoming due as a result of written or oral contracts for services or sales whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise.
  • Payments due for workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits.
  • Payments due as a result of disability from benefits.
  • Any other payments or credits due or becoming due, regardless of source.

What are net disposable earnings?

Those earnings remaining after mandatory taxes and deductions including mandatory retirement or union dues. Therefore, if your employee has voluntary deductions for 401K plans or other benefits, these deductions cannot be used to calculate disposable earnings. Health insurance premiums are not considered mandatory and are not deducted in determining disposable earnings, per FC 4059.

Examples for computing multiple child support orders and applying the 50% rule

  • Example 1: You receive two Order/Notices from two different counties (or States). They both have the same children listed, but one is for current support and the other is just for arrears. You should make deductions to send to both counties. If the total deductions exceed 50% of disposable income, you should cover the current support first.
  • Example 2: You receive an Order/Notice from four different counties. They all have current support for different children, which totals $700. Each has an arrears payment as follows: #1 = $150; #2 = $100; #3 + $75; and #4 = $75. The 50% of disposable income is $800. Pay the current support first which leave you $100. Prorate the arrears for each order like this: #1: Divide $150 by $400 x $100 = $37.50; #2: Divide $100 by $400 x $100 = $25; #3 and #4: Divide $75 by $400 x $100 = $18.75 each.
  • Example 3: You have an Order/Notice from one county for $400 current support and $100 on arrears. You have been complying with it for over 1 year. Now you receive another Order/Notice from another State for another child for $300 current support and $100 on arrears. 50% of the net disposable income is $650. You should pay the current support for both orders to the extent possible. In this case you will prorate the ongoing support orders based on the amount of the order like this: #1: Divide $400 by $700 x $650 = $371.43; #2: Divide $300 by $700 x $650 = $278.57.