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AttorneyTom, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Hello my name is Tom~~~In less than a month I am going to receive

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Hello my name is Tom~~~In less than a month I am going to receive social security. They say that child support for back child support is going to take at least 50% of my check. I am also working and have been paying back child support for years now via wage attach. I pay over $600 very month this way. Can they do this I was really counting on my social security to live and now I don't know what I am going to do. The ss amount is $1600 a month and the work check is about $1275 a month. I also did my best to pay my child support for over 20 years via wage attachment! Can you please help me here?

Thank you,

Tom Cloyd
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for the opportunity to answer your question. I am sending this answer to you only a few minutes after you submitted your question.
I am sorry to hear about the situation. Yes, sir. Social Security benefits can be garnished to enforce a child support order pursuant to 42 USC 659. Tax returns may also be seized. This is true even if an individual is making other payments. You may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement of the arrears or, if you are suffering from a hardship, you may be able to successfully petition the court to reduce the garnishment. However, the unfortunate reality is that child support arrears can potentially delay retirement. Because child support is viewed as a right of the child and because the government wants to avoid incurring additional costs of under-supported children, the unfortunate reality is that child support takes priority over most other things.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Sorry but I am a bit confused. I am no longer paying child support. My youngest child will be 21 on his next birthday. I have been paying child support for over 20 years, so how can they attack me with almost $1500 a month in arrears. $800 which is supposed to start with my first ss check in July. The other $675.00 a month has been going towards arrears for years. I have the latest summarized income withholding order/notice for support that was sent to my place of employment in front of me and it states the toal amount for arrears is $967.00. Please help me agin to understand how more can ber taken or what I should do. I no money at all so to speak and I am 66 years old and don't know what I am going to do!!!
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your message. For this purpose, arrears are the same as child support. Arrears are simply unpaid child support from the past, and the state can pursue your Social Security benefits to satisfy that amount. Nothing prevents that and they are treated like prospective child support for that purpose, even if the child has reached adulthood. What you're going to want to do, if arrears amount to a large sum, is to retain an attorney to evaluate the possibility of negotiating a favorable settlement of the arrears. That will likely require a lump sum payment. In any case, if the total amount of the arrears is only $967, once that full amount is paid, the garnishment should cease. If it does not, you could then petition the court to ensure that it does. Therefore, if the arrears are a very small amount, the garnishment may only affect you for a short time.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Maybe I said it wrong. The arrears amount of $967 I said was not the total of the arrears. That was the amount they wanted each month. So part of my question was if that is the case why are they now going to take close to $1500 a month. Plus I have been paying over $650 a month for years now. Doesn't this get paid towards arrears or what? How do I find out what the total is or will this go on until I die? Sorry for the negativety. Anyway thank you for your knowledge. I can only pay you $20 for what I have done and so sorry to have taken up your time.
Expert:  AttorneyTom replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your message. No problem at all with regard to the negativity. It's perfectly understandable. Child support and arrears are very difficult issues and they can be very depressing. I understand that, as I see it all the time. I'm very sorry that you're having to go through that. I'm happy to be here to answer your questions.
Basically, with arrears, the state can go after as much as it cares to up to the maximum garnishment amount. However, if you can show that doing so creates a hardship, it may be possible to get the amount reduced. This will continue until the arrearage is paid in full or settled, so there's some incentive to get it paid off quickly but, of course, you need to have enough to live, and that's where the hardship issue comes in. You really need legal assistance. Here's what I'd recommend:
Contact a local legal clinic. See if you can get some help there. You want your attorney to review the possibility of having any garnishments reduced due to the hardship they're creating. Your attorney can also review the arrearage itself to verify the amount and he can attempt to negotiate a settlement, though you may need to pay a lump sum initially to get that done. I know how difficult these matters are and I know how hard they can make it to pay your own bills. If you cannot get assistance from a local legal clinic, you can ask local private attorneys if they can help you for a reduced fee or, possibly, for free. They may be willing to do so, though the matter is entirely discretionary for them. Honestly, retaining counsel in the matter should be viewed as an investment, rather than a dead expense. It may or may not pay off, but it's well worth the money and effort.
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