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Collecting child support payments from Social Security benefits

Collecting overdue child support payments can be a challenge for custodial parents who are living in Arizona. While there are several alternative methods of enforcement and coercion, including wage garnishment, property seizure and license suspension, some people overlook the possibility of going after Social Security payments being made to the delinquent parent. Knowledge of how to garnish benefit payments is particularly helpful in cases where the child support is long overdue.

Child support payments cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and Arizona does not have a statute of limitations on the collection of overdue child support payments that were mandated by a court order. These lack of restrictions on child support collection make most Social Security payments a good target, even if the payments are several years in arrears. This means that parents who are owed child support can garnish Social Security retirement, survivor and disability insurance benefits. Only Supplemental Security Income benefits are exempt from garnishment, as they are considered welfare benefits rather than those that have been earned.

Garnishing Social Security payments requires a court order. After it has been issued, the order is served to the local Social Security Administration office. The SSA handles the garnishment from there, deducting the child support payment from the beneficiary's monthly benefit amount. According to federal law, up to 65 percent of a Social Security benefit payment can be garnished to repay child support obligations.

Going to court to request a Social Security benefit garnishment can be intimidating for many people. An experienced family law attorney may be of assistance in such cases. The attorney may be able to review the circumstances surrounding the delinquent child support payments and determine whether there are other sources of income that can be garnished as well.

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