Employers have three major areas of responsibility:
To honor the Child Support Services' Order/Notice to Withhold Income.
To honor the National Medical Support Notice/Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage, and
To report new employees to the New Employee Registry (NER) of the California Employment Development Department (EDD) within 20 days of the employee's hiring date.
How much income is the employer required to deduct from the employee's earnings upon receipt of the Order/Notice to Withhold Income?
Employers are to deduct the total amount requested in the "Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support." However, if the amount requested would exceed 50% of the employee's disposable earnings, then the employer should deduct up to 50% of the employees disposable earnings without exceeding the 50% disposable earnings' threshold.
What are disposable earnings, and how does an employer calculate them?
Disposable earnings are also known as "take-home" or "net" earnings. These are the employee's earnings that remain after deductions are made, as required by law, including, but not limited to, federal and state income tax withholdings.
What should an employer do upon receipt of Orders/Notices to Withhold Income for Child Support issued by different child support offices (including ours) that are located in different states* and pertain to the same employee?
If the child support requested is for the same child(ren), please contact our office immediately. If the child support requested is for different children, then the employer must honor all Orders / Notices to Withhold Income for Child Support and give priority to the current monthly child support obligations for the children.
If disposable earnings remain after the current support obligations are withheld (without exceeding the employee's 50% disposable earnings threshold), then the employer should make further deductions, if applicable, to satisfy the health insurance and/or arrears obligations as requested in the Orders / Notices to Withhold Income for Child Support. If no disposable earnings remain after the current support obligations are withheld, or if the current child support obligations would exceed 50% of the employee's disposable earnings, then please contact our office immediately for further direction.
*Note: Wage-withholding regulations may differ from state to state.
What should an employer do upon receipt of Orders/Notices to Withhold Income for Child Support issued by different child support offices (including ours) that are located in California and pertain to the same employee?
If the child support requested is for the same child(ren), please contact our agency immediately. If the child support requested is for different children, then California law (Family Code Section 5238 subsection b) provides that the employer must prorate the payments in accordance with the following:
If the obligor has more than one assignment for support, the employer shall add together the amount of the support due for each assignment.
If 50 percent of the obligor's net disposable earnings will not pay in full all of the assignments for support, the employer shall prorate it first among all of the current support assignments in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total current support owed
Example: Employer receives two wage assignments for John Doe. John Doe owes support for two children. Support for child 1 is $150 per month while support for child 2 is $350 per month. The total support requested is $500 per month. John Doe has net disposable earnings of $900 per month.
Since $500 is more than 50% of John Doe's disposable earnings, then the payments would be prorated. Support for child 1 ($150) represents 30% of the total current support owed while support for child 2 ($350) represents 70%. When we take 50% of John Doe's net disposable earnings, we have $450 left to meet the child support obligations. By prorating the amounts, the employer would deduct $135 (or 30%) for child 1 and $315 (or 70%) for child 2 for a grand total deduction of $450 per month.
The employer shall apply any remainder to the assignments for arrearage support in the same proportion that each assignment bears to the total arrearage owed.
What should an employer do when the employee terminated employment, or he/she was never employed, prior to receiving the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support?
The employer should submit (no later than 30 days from the date of the notice) an inquiry form to our Ombudsperson Team indicating the reasons for not honoring the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support.
Is an employer required to report employee terminations to the child support office?
Yes. Employers must notify us of any lapse of employment (e.g., leave without pay, termination, etc.,) regarding an employee that has an obligation for support through our office. Employers should submit an inquiry form notifying our office of any lapse of employment immediately after the lapse of employment occurs. Information pertinent to a new or prospective employer for the obligor should be indicated on this form as well.
Is an employer required to withhold child support and enforce health insurance coverage for someone that works as an "independent contractor?"
Yes. Family Code Section 5206 defines "earnings" as "payments due for services of independent contractors, dividends, rents, royalties, residuals, patent rights, or other natural resource rights." Family Code Section 5206 defines "employer" as any person paying earnings as defined under section 5206. Family Code Section 5231 provides that an "assignment order" is effective and binding upon any existing or future employer of the obligor upon whom a copy of the order is served.
What is the role of the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) in collecting child support?
The California Franchise Tax Board assists local child support offices in California with collections on active child support cases.
What is the effect of "vacating" an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support previously issued by the Franchise Tax Board when an additional Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support has also been issued by the CSS?
None. Vacating the wage assignment issued by the Franchise Tax Board has no effect on the wage assignment issued by CSS.
Is the employer required to add the employee's child(ren) to the company health plan upon receipt of a National Medical Support Notice/Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage previously issued by our office?
Yes. Family Code Section 3761 (a) states in part that: "(a) Upon application by a party or local child support agency in any proceeding where the court has ordered either or both parents to maintain health insurance coverage under Article 1 (commencing with Section 3750), the court shall order the employer of the obligor parent or other person providing health insurance to the obligor to enroll the supported child in the health insurance plan available to the obligor through the employer or other person and to deduct the appropriate premium or costs, if any, from the earnings of the obligor unless the court makes a finding of good cause for not making the order."
How does an employer enforce the National Medical Support Notice/Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage?
The employer must add the child(ren) to the health insurance plan and return the Plan Administrator Response with the medical insurance form, insurance card(s) and/or booklets to our office as soon as possible. If coverage is not available, but will become available in the future, then the employer should specify such date on the Plan Administrator Response form. In such cases, the employer should keep the medical insurance forms and add the child(ren) to the health insurance plan once health insurance becomes available. At that time, the employer would complete and return the medical insurance form (DHS 6110) to our office along with the insurance card(s) and/or booklets.
What if the combined cost of the child support payment and the health care coverage premium exceeds 50 percent of the employee's disposable earnings?
The employer should not add the child(ren) to the health insurance plan. Employers should submit an inquiry form as soon as possible notifying our office of the reasons for not honoring the National Medical Support Notice/Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage. Additionally, employers must specify on this form the exact cost that would be incurred if the child(ren) were added to the employee's healthcare policy.
Is the employer required to enroll the minor child(ren) when health insurance coverage is not available in the state where the child(ren) reside?
Yes. Family Code Section 3751.5 (a)(3) states in part that: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an employer or insurer shall not deny enrollment of a child under the health insurance coverage of a child's parent on any of the following grounds: (3) The child does not reside with the parent or within the insurer's service area."
How does an employer complete the DHS 6110 form?
When the minor child(ren) will be enrolled in any dental, vision or medical insurance plan, the employer must complete items 20 through 24 of the DSH 6110 form. The employer must also complete the 'Additional Health Insurance Policy Information' section and check the "Absent Parent" box (item 20).
Would the employee continue to receive billing statements from our office after the employer starts deducting child support payments from the employee?
Yes. Billing statements are generated by our computer database on an automated and monthly basis regardless of whether the employer sends payments or not.
Is the employer allowed to charge a fee for withholding child support payments from the employee?
Yes. The employer may deduct $1.50 from the employee's earnings for each payment made pursuant to the wage assignment order. Note: California Family Code Section 5235 (d) allows an employer to deduct $1.50 for each payment made pursuant to the order. However, employers conducting business in a state other than California should check their state laws regarding fees for handling/processing child support payments.
What is the New Employee Registry (NER)?
The NER is a program through EDD. The program provides timely employee status information for child support enforcement purposes. For approximately 180 days, EDD maintains hire information for new or returning employees. In turn, child support offices use this information to serve the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support and/or the National Medical Support Notice/Notice to Withhold for Health Care Coverage.
When does an employer have to report new employee information to the EDD/NER?
Employers are required to report information regarding new or returning employees to EDD/NER within 20 days from the employee's hiring or re-hiring date.
How does an employer report new employee information to the EDD/NER?
Please visit EDD's web site and choose "Employers" under the "Services" menu. Downloadable forms are available at this web site. Employers may also report new employee information in any of these ways: By mail: Employment Development Department P.O. Box 997016 MIC 23 West Sacramento, CA 95799-7016 By fax: (916) 255-0951 By phone: (916) 651-6945
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