CSS caseworkers can use income withholding or involuntary allotments as enforcement remedies in addition to standard legal procedures when:
Income withholding for military members is accomplished through electronic income withholding ("e-IWO"). This topic contains information on the following subjects:
North Carolina CSS has entered into an agreement with Department of Defense (DOD) to send the Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document electronically for military members, active DOD civilian employees, and active civilian employees with other select federal agencies to the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS). When CSS caseworkers initiate income withholding for noncustodial parents (NCPs) with military or civilian DFAS FEINs, ACTS creates an electronic file of the DSS-4702 document and sends it through CSENet to DFAS for processing.
Members of the uniformed services are subject to the same withholding statutes as civilians. CSS caseworkers should direct e-IWO (Electronic Income Withholding) notices for all active duty, reserve, and retired military personnel and for civilian Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE),Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) employees to the appropriate FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number). (DFAS is phasing in e-IWO for Department of Veteran Affairs offices. Currently, DFAS only handles the Austin, Texas VA payroll electronically.)
I/W notices for active and retired military personnel and civilian DOD, DOE, DHHS, EPA, BBG, and VA employees are sent to DFAS through "e-IWO" (Electronic income withholding). Otherwise, income withholding for military personnel and civilians employed by these federal agencies is processed in the same manner as for regular civilian employees.
If a court order mandates immediate income withholding, CSS caseworkers must initiate this type of income withholding when entering the court order information in ACTS.
DOD provides the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) with new hire and quarterly wage information for noncustodial parents (NCPs) who are military personnel or DOD civilian employees. (EXCEPTION: DOD does not submit a new hire report for an NCP reservist who is called to active duty. FPLS notifies the state of a change in the NCP's employer on a quarterly basis.)
If the NCP fails to provide CSS with wage information, CSS caseworkers must use this source to obtain current payroll information for active duty, reserve, or retired military personnel or for DOD civilian personnel.
Once a case is eligible for immediate income withholding, ACTS creates a new I/W Worksheet and an ORIGINAL Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document for each of the military member/NCP's eligible cases. Caseworkers must send a copy of the document to the military member/NCP by regular mail and a copy to the local Clerk of Court for filing. ACTS sends an electronic file of the notice to DFAS.
A Notice Of Intent To Income Withhold (DSS-4485) is not generated and sent to an NCP whose order is eligible for immediate income withholding. The support order itself serves as notice to the NCP.
If the military member/NCP has more than one active and verified
employer, ACTS generates an Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document for each employer and notifies the responsible caseworker. Caseworkers must determine whether the records that show the NCP having multiple employers are accurate. If so, an Income Withholding For Support (DSS-4702) document is sent electronically to DFAS for processing.
Caseworkers must send the notices to non-military employers (or their registered agents, if appropriate) by regular mail.
Payroll deductions begin within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice to withhold or the first pay period after such 30-day period. Active duty military pay is set up to issue child support checks once a month. However, deductions are taken from the military member/NCP's mid-month and end-of-month pay, which can result in a partial child support payment being sent to the custodial parent (CP) initially. Subsequent payments reflect the full amount available on the income withholding request.
For income withholding deductions from military retirement pay, partial child support payments do not occur. Payroll deductions for retired military personnel begin either within thirty (30) days after the notice to withhold or on the first pay period after this 30-day period.
The use of involuntary allotments is a means to enforce child support payments from active duty military personnel who are not under income withholding or when the maximum amount payable from the disposable income does not allow full payment.
Federal law requires that upon request from an authorized person, each military branch, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the Coast Guard establish involuntary child support allotments from the pay and allowances of active duty members if the military member/noncustodial parent (NCP) has failed to make payments under a support order in a total amount equal to the support payable for two (2) months or longer (per Section 172 of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, PL 97-248, 42 USC 665).
The use of involuntary allotments has proven to be an effective enforcement technique, and it is strongly recommended when the above conditions apply.
Caseworkers can initiate the involuntary allotment process by generating the Military Involuntary Allotment Request (DSS-4627) and sending it to the appropriate official. The requirements of the notice of involuntary allotment follow:
1. The notice must be in writing.
2. The notice must be prepared in triplicate: original to the appropriate designated official, one (1) copy to the Clerk of Court, and one (1) copy for the case record.
3. The notice must be signed by an authorized person and state that the issuer is an authorized person as defined in 42 USC 665(a)(2). An authorized person is defined to include CSS caseworkers and CSS attorneys, including those authorized to provide legal representation to local CSS agencies. (Local caseworkers can prepare, review, issue, and sign the notice.)
4. The notice must provide sufficient information to identify the person from whom the allotment is being sought, including:
5. The notice must state that the military member/NCP has failed to make periodic payments of support and must establish that he/she is delinquent in an amount equal to or more than the sum of two (2) months' support payments as required by a court order.
6. The notice must be accompanied by a recently certified copy of the support order that establishes the support obligation plus any modifications. (EXCEPTION: The Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will accept a photo copy.) The notice must also be accompanied by a certified Affidavit Of Arrears (DSS-4648). When arrearages are sought in addition to current support, the certified order must include an arrears frequency amount, in addition to the current support. (In this situation, local caseworkers must initiate the appropriate legal action to establish the amount of arrearages that are owed and to include terms for payment of the arrearages and current support as a part of the order.)
If arrearages are being sought, the notice must state that the allotment qualifies for the additional five percent (5%) in excess of the maximum percentage limitations.
Supporting evidence must also be submitted to establish that the military member/NCP is twelve (12) or more weeks in arrears. A certified Affidavit Of Arrears (DSS-4648) should serve to prove this delinquency. Local caseworkers must monitor these CSS cases closely and initiate appropriate action once all arrearages have been liquidated in order to prevent money from accruing in a future account.
7. The notice must state the name and address of the payee (the name of the appropriate court or agency) to which the involuntary allotment is to be sent.
8. The notice must state how long the allotment is to be in effect.
9. The original copy of the notice and accompanying documents (including a certified copy of the court order) must be sent by certified or registered mail (return receipt requested) or by personal service to the DFAS Cleveland Center (for all branches except the Coast Guard) or to the US Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center (for Coast Guard personnel.)
In order for the notice to be readily accepted by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the local caseworker must ensure that all of the above technical requirements are met.
Three (3) additional requirements must be met for notices involving Coast Guard personnel (and documentation for these requirements must be attached to the notice):
1. The notice must identify the name and date of birth of all children for whom support is to be provided under the allotment;
2. The notice must include a statement on the age of majority in North Carolina with the appropriate legal citation, which is NCGS 48A-2; and
3. The notice must include a statement as to how personal jurisdiction was obtained over the NCP/defendant when the original support order was entered, if this information is not already stated in the order.
DFAS should notify the military member/NCP who is delinquent in making the support payments within fifteen (15) calendar days for notices involving the military or within thirty (30) calendar days for the other uniformed services. No action should be taken to withhold an allotment from the pay and allowances of the member NCP until he/she has had an opportunity to consult with a legal officer from his/her military branch or department.
However, if the military member/NCP has not consulted with the appropriate legal authorities within thirty (30) days after he/she has been given notice, the particular military branch or department should take action to deduct the allotment from his/her pay and allowance on a monthly basis. This usually means that the first payment of an approved allotment would be received at the end of the second month after the month when the notice was served.
The military member/NCP's pay is reduced by the amount that is necessary to comply with the support order and to liquidate arrearages, if the court order specifies and provides for those arrearages. However, a limit exists on the amount that can be withheld to satisfy a support obligation, as found in 15 USC 1673(b) (Consumer Credit Protection Act). These limits follow:
1. If a service member is supporting a spouse or dependent child other than the child(ren) whose support is sought by the notice, the allotment is limited to fifty percent (50%) of disposable pay and allowances.
2. If no spouse or dependent child as described above exists, the allotment is limited to sixty percent (60%) of disposable pay and allowances.
3. If the local CSS agent seeking the allotment can demonstrate that the service member is in arrears for an amount that is equivalent to twelve (12) or more weeks' support, the maximum permissible allotment limitations are increased by five percent (5%).
Once established, the involuntary allotment cannot be terminated or changed by the military member/NCP. The involuntary allotment continues until:
1. The military member/NCP is no longer receiving active duty pay;
2. The conditions specified in the notice are met; or
3. The local caseworker serves notice on the designated official to terminate or alter the allotment.
If for unknown reasons, the allotment does not continue when a duty station changes, caseworkers should generate and submit a new Military Involuntary Allotment Request (DSS-4627).
Federal regulations clearly provide CSS agencies with the option of pursuing arrearages through the involuntary allotment process, provided the requirements that were previously discussed are met. However, income withholding could be the more preferable and cost-effective alternative, especially if substantial arrearages exist and the legal prerequisites for filing such an action are met.
It should be noted that the involuntary allotment process only applies to personnel receiving active duty pay. On the other hand, income withholding can be initiated against personnel receiving retirement or disability pay.
For questions or clarification on any of the policy contained in these manuals, please contact your local county office.