New York custodial parents who are owed child support from their former spouse may be able to collect the money they need to care for their children even if the other parent's only source of income is Social Security benefits. However, the type of benefits that the non-custodial parent is receiving will make a difference in whether a garnishment will be allowed to take place.
Parents who are receiving Supplemental Security Income benefits cannot have them garnished for unpaid child support. This is because this particular program is not related to the recipient's former earnings but is instead deemed to be a form of welfare. However, those who receive Social Security benefits through the survivors, retirement or disability programs may have child support withheld from their check.
In order to receive child support from a delinquent parent's Social Security benefits, the custodial parent will need to obtain a court order for wage withholding and then take it to a Social Security Administration office. By law, the government can only withhold a maximum of 65 percent of a recipient's benefits. Child support enforcement agencies may in some cases be able to offer other alternatives for collecting current and past-due child support. Some options include the seizure of income tax refunds and the attachment of bank accounts of the delinquent parents.
Custodial parents who are owed child support are understandably frustrated and often do not know where to turn. However, in some cases there are valid reasons why a non-custodial parent is unable to keep up with the payment schedule set forth in a court order, and often the delinquency is due to an adverse change in financial circumstances. In such a situation, a family law attorney can assist in the preparation and submission to the court of a request for a modification of the order.