In general, income withholding is the court ordered or administratively ordered deduction
of a specified amount from the obligor's income for payment of child support to the
obligee. Generally, at the time a court issues a child support order, the court will
also issue a separate income withholding order that is to be served on an obligor's
payor or employer, such as SSA, to deduct this amount from the obligor's income. Below
is each state's respective laws governing the service of process of income withholding
orders and who may serve the orders on SSA as the payor or employer.
Arkansas: At the time of issuance of a child support order approving an immediate order of income
withholding, the court, Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), custodial
parent, noncustodial parent, or a representative of the custodial or noncustodial
parent may serve the order of income withholding upon the payor by first class mail.
Ark. Code Ann. § 9-14-222; OCSE, Enforcement Case Services vs. Payment Processing
Case Services, http://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/offices/childSupport/newToOCSE/Pages/compareServices.aspx (last accessed Apr. 29, 2011). If the payor does not properly remit the withholding,
the serving party will send a second notice to the payor pursuant to Rule 4 of the
Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure. Id. The Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure generally
permit service by personal delivery, registered mail, or certified mail. Ark. R. Civ.
P. 4. Service on the payor may be made by: (1) a sheriff of the county where the service
is to be made, or his or her deputy; (2) any person not less than eighteen years of
age appointed for the purpose of serving summons; (3) any person authorized to serve
process under the law of the place outside this state where service is made; or (4)
in the event of service by mail or commercial delivery company, by the plaintiff or
an attorney of record for the plaintiff. Ark. R. Civ. P. 4(c).
Louisiana: At the time of issuance of a child support order, the court shall order an immediate
income assignment. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 46:236.3(B) (1). The court effectuates the
income assignment order by providing written notice to the payor(s), advising the
payor(s) to withhold an amount for current support. Id. This statute does not specify
a particular manner of service for this written notice from the court.
Where an obligor is delinquent on a child support obligation and an immediate income
assignment has not been issued, there are two ways an income assignment can be obtained
and served on a payor, such as SSA, depending upon whether the Department of Children
and Family Service (department) is providing services. Where the department is not
providing services, an obligee can seek to have an immediate income assignment effectuated.
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 46:236.3(C) (1). The obligee notifies the obligor of the delinquency
and of the intent to ask a court to issue an income assignment order. Id; see also
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 13:3204. If the obligor does not file a petition to stay service
of the income assignment order, a payor may be served with a notice to withhold an
amount for current support, plus an additional amount for any arrears, to be determined
by the court. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 46:236.3(C)(4). The statute does not specify a
particular method of service on the payor of this notice. Where the department is
providing services, the department may provide written notice to a payor to withhold
an amount for the current support, plus an additional amount, determined by the department,
toward any arrears. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 46:236.3(D)(1). The statute specifies that
in these instances, the department shall serve this notice upon a payor by certified
mail, regular mail, transmission by electronic means, or personal or domiciliary service.
La Rev. Stat. Ann. § 46:236.3(D)(1).
New Mexico: At the time of issuance of a child support order, the court shall also issue an order
to withhold income. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 40-4A-4.1(B). The state's Title IV-D agency
(the New Mexico Human Services Department, Child Support Enforcement Division), the
support obligee, obligee's attorney, or court shall mail via certified mail the income
withholding order to a payor, such as SSA. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 40-4A-4.1(F).
Where an obligor is delinquent on a child support obligation, the obligee or public
office agency (the New Mexico Human Services Department, Child Support Enforcement
Division, State Disbursement Unit) may prepare and serve notice of the delinquency
on the obligor, file a notice to withhold income with the clerk of the district court,
and serve the notice to withhold income on a payor, such as SSA, by certified mail
or personal delivery. N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 40-4A-2(M), 40-4A-4, 40-4A-5(A), (B).
With respect to subsequent payors, any order of income withholding or a notice for
income withholding is binding against future payors by operation of law upon actual
knowledge of the contents of the order or notice, or upon receipt by personal delivery
or certified mail of a filed copy of the order or notice to the payor. N.M. Stat.
Ann. § 40-4A-8(F). This provision does not expressly limit who can serve the filed
copy of the order or notice on such a future payor.
Oklahoma: At the time of issuance of a child support order, the Oklahoma Department of Human
Services or a person awarded child support by the district court or the Oklahoma Department
of Human Services may apply to collect any current child support or any child support
due and owing through a notice of income withholding, referred to as a notice of income
assignment. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 1171.2(A). To properly serve the notice of
income assignment on the payor, the applicant must send a notice of income assignment
to the payor by certified mail, return receipt requested, or served according to law.
Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 1171.3 (Income assignment proceedings); Okla. Stat. Ann.
tit. 56, § 240.2(D) (Enforcement proceedings by Child Support Enforcement Division
of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services). Oklahoma law permits also permits service
through personal delivery by a sheriff, deputy, or a person licensed or appointed
to serve process. Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 12, § 2004.
Texas: At the time of issuance of a child support order, a request can be made for issuance
of an order or judicial writ of withholding directing an employer, such as SSA, to
withhold an obligor's earnings for payment of child support. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. §§
101.0161, 158.001, 158.104, 158.105. The clerk of the court issues a judicial writ
of withholding directing and shall serve a certified copy of the order or judicial
writ of withholding to the obligor's current or subsequent employer by first-class
mail or, if requested, by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested,
by electronic transmission, including electronic mail, or facsimile transmission.
Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 158.105(a),(c),(d).
Where an obligor is delinquent on a child support obligation or an income withholding
was not ordered at the time child support was ordered, the Title IV-D agency, attorney
representing the local domestic relations office, attorney appointed a friend of court,
obligor, obligee, or private attorney representing the obligor or the obligee can
request the clerk of court to issue a judicial writ of withholding. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. §§ 158.301, 158.312, 158.313. In this situation, the clerk shall issue and serve
the writ on the employer in accordance with the same procedures set forth above in
section 158.105. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 158.313(b).
With respect to subsequent employers, after the district clerk produces the writ,
a party authorized to request the clerk for issuance of a writ of withholding, which
includes the Title IV-D agency, attorney representing the local domestic relations
office, attorney appointed a friend of court, obligor, obligee, or private attorney
representing the obligor or the obligee, may issue a copy of the judicial writ of
withholding to an obligor's subsequent employer by certified mail. Tex. Fam. Code
Ann. § 158.319(a).
Effective September 1, 2011, Texas law changed and now permits a Texas state court
to order income withholding for spousal maintenance. However, this change only applies
to those proceedings for income withholding for spousal maintenance that commenced
after September 1, 2011.