Employer child support payments

How Should An Employer Handle Required Support Payments?

Employer child support paymentsPayment of maintenance or child support can – and often does – occur through direct deductions from an individual’s paycheck.  A person owed support is able to submit an Income Withholding for Support order to the court, which is then given to the employer of the person who owes the support. These forms can be used for both current and past-due support. An employer who receives this form is required to withhold the required support amount from the employee’s paycheck and pay the funds directly to the Illinois State Disbursement Unit.  The State Disbursement Unit (SDU) then pays the individual owed the support.

In the same way that Illinois law has a series of responsibilities and consequences for an individual who does not pay owed support, the law also outlines duties for an employer required to withhold and disburse support through an Income Withholding Support Form.

When an employer hires a new employee, they are required to submit the individual’s information to the Illinois’ New Hire Directory, which then forwards the information to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. [1]  This process ensures the employer has knowledge of a new employee’s obligation to make support payments.  Employers must comply with these forms regardless of the state in which they were issued. [2]

If an employer refuses or fails to comply with the withholding requirements, they can be subject to legal penalties.[3]  The employer has the duty of collecting the funds from the paycheck of the person obligated to pay the support, and then issuing them to the State Disbursement Unit so that they may be paid to the person entitled to receive the support. If, even by mistake, an employer fails to withhold the funds, or to pay them to the State Disbursement Unit, the employer may be subject to financial penalties. [5]  If an employer continually fails to pay the amounts withheld from an employee’s check to the State Disbursement Unit, a court may presume that the employer knowingly did not pay the required amount. [6] This can put the employer at risk of additional penalties, including paying the State Disbursement Unit on a separately determined schedule. [7][8]

If an employer is believed to have knowingly disregarded an Income Withholding Support Form, they may be fined up to $100 per day for the violation. [9] This fee is added to the amount originally to have been deducted from the employee’s pay and is all to be sent to the State Disbursement Unit.  The non-payment fee can quickly add up and result in a much larger amount than what was originally owed to the obligee. When this occurs, the individual who is having support deducted from their check is not responsible for the accumulated fees; instead the fees are the responsibility of the employer. Illinois courts use these fines to punish employers for non-payment and to discourage future violations. [10]  Additionally, the additional funds that a person receiving support may receive from these fines is not considered as part of the child support owed to them.  The individual who owes support must still pay the same amount, but the person receiving support may receive these additional fines from the employer. [11]

Considering the potential for substantial penalties to be incurred, it is critical that an employer follows the required protocol when issued an Income Withholding Support Form for an employee. This will ensure that not only are they safe from a potential judgement against them, but the person owed support is getting it when needed.

If you have any questions about child support or your duties as an employer in this area, contact us at(618) 692-6656 or admin@shererlaw.com.

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[1] https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/Documents/IlEmployerHandbook.pdf

[2] Id.

[3] 750 ILCS 28/15

[4] https://www.illinois.gov/hfs/ChildSupport/Documents/IlEmployerHandbook.pdf

[5]  In re Marriage of Hundley, 2019 IL App (4th) 180380,  ¶ 31

[6] 750 ILCS 28/35(a)

[7] Hundley, 2019 IL App (4th) 180380, ¶ 97

[8] Id. at ¶97 – ¶99.

[9] 750 ILCS 28/35(a)

[10] Hundley, 2019 IL App (4th) 180380, ¶ 110

[11] Id.