Withholding Orders – What Are They?

Often times in family law cases, a parent or spouse is put under an obligation to pay the other party monetary support. This can take the form of either child support or spousal support. The court will typically order that a certain amount be paid each month to one of the parties for a set period of time. The way this money is paid can be facilitated through the use of a withholding order.

A withholding order is a document signed by the judge which designates how money is to be paid to a party from the other party’s employer. The withholding order states the amount of money to be paid on a schedule according to the paying party’s pay periods. So, it will state how much is to be paid monthly, bi-monthly, bi-weekly, and weekly with specificity so the employer will know the exact amount to remit to the receiving party. It will also say where the payment is to be sent, which is typically the Texas State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio.

The employer is obligated to begin withholding the money for either child support or spousal support on the first pay period after they receive the withholding order. If they receive multiple withholding orders for the same employee, then they are to pay them but only up to 50% of the employee’s disposable earnings. This can happen when the employee has more than one child for who they owe a duty of support or if they have an ex-spouse to who they owe child support and spousal support. The 50% must be split equally between child support and spousal support in the case of an employee subject to both.

An employer is required by law to follow a wage withholding order it receives from the court but may object if done timely. However, noncompliance with a withholding order can make an employer subject to reimbursement for support not paid and possible fines. If an employee changes jobs, the employee is obligated to inform their new employer of the existence of a withholding order. When this doesn’t happen, it sometimes makes it necessary for the party owed support to cause the withholding order to be issued to the new employer so they have notice of it. When a withholding order is no longer in effect due to a child turning 18 for example, then the paying parent will need to petition the court for an order terminating the withholding order.

Withholding orders can provide an easy way for parents or spouses to ensure that they are paid the support that is owed to them. In addition, it can provide reassurance to a paying party that their obligations are being paid without having to keep track of payments made each month. Both parties will want to have a record of payments going through the State Disbursement Unit so there will be protected if one of the parties tries to say the other party did not pay or did not receive payment. As a parent or spouse involved in family law litigation, you should consult with your attorney about the benefits of having a withholding order issued in your particular case for either child support or spousal support.

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