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What does child support paid through wage assignments mean?

As part of your divorce, the court may have ordered you to make child support payments to your ex. Your order indicates that wage assignments will pay for child support. What does that mean and why does the state of California require this?

When ordered to pay child support, you would think just writing a check and sending it to your ex would suffice. Unfortunately, it does not work that way for most people. In order to ensure that children are receiving the financial support they need, the state asks employers to step in and deduct child support from paychecks of employees who have standing support orders in place.

How wage assignments work

After establishing a support order, the court swiftly sends a wage assignment to the payor's employer. This is a document that gives the employer instructions regarding how much to deduct from each paycheck and where to send the money. Generally, child support goes to the state's disbursement unit and then passed on to the recipient.

Sounds easy enough, right? Well, what if your employer changes? What if your employer fails to comply?

If you change jobs, telling the court is your responsibility. Failing to inform the court of this change may result in skipped payments, which will only hurt you and your children in the long run. On this flip side, if your employer fails to deduct your child support payments, the court may hold your employer responsible for the missed payments.

Is a wage assignment really necessary?

This is how it works in California. There are a few ways you could avoid a wage assignment, but for the most part this is how the state expects child support to be paid. To cancel a wage assignment you may:

  • Make an agreement with your spouse to make direct payments
  • Provide proof to the court that the wage assignment causes you undue hardship
  • Provide evidence that the wage assignment is bad for your children
  • Pay support for 12 straight months through direct payments

Every child support case is unique, so the court is willing to consider alternatives to wage assignments under the right circumstances.

Child support order help

You may not feel that you have a say when it comes to your child support order, but that is not really true. With help, it is possible to achieve a support order that is economically fair and paid in a way that works for you and your children -- whether that is through wage assignments or direct payments.

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