How to guide: enforcing your support order!
It’s not often that my firm, who generally services high income and high net worth clientele, has to obtain income withholding orders to collect spousal and child support. However, recently I had a case that required we obtain two orders – one to collect past support owed and one to collect future support payments. Here’s a step-by-step guide if you run into a similar situation.*
Note, there are many ways to collect a judgment. See the following link from the Superior Court website on collecting judgments: https://www.courts.ca.gov/9330.htm
- Requesting an income withholding order to collect future support:
- You don’t need to file a formal request for order to obtain an income withholding order for future support payments. Fill out an Income Withholding for Support (FL-195) (making sure to redact all but the last 4 digits of the employee’s social security number) and attach it to the support order. Take these documents to the department, and the judge will sign.
- Requesting an income withholding order on past due support:
- Obtain a Writ of Execution for past due support. Using the executed Writ, you can request the court order an income withholding order. Again, use the FL-195 Income Withholding for Support and include the Writ of Execution (which will act as the underlying judgment).
- If you don’t have a Writ of Execution, the Court will need to determine arrears, which almost always requires a noticed motion. (If you are filing a noticed motion, consider using the Declaration of Payment History (FL-420) and attaching a CFLR Executioner report or spreadsheet showing payments ordered and payments made.)
- Once you have the income withholding order(s):
- Fax the order(s) to the CA State Disbursement Center. Include a cover letter with the case number, your client’s name, address, phone number, date of birth, and social security number.
- Serve the employer with the order(s) and include the underlying judgment or Writ.
- Serve a copy on the other party or his/her attorney.
- Confirm the employer received the order(s) and will comply. Note that the employer can set up electronic payments, but they need to call the CA State Disbursement Center.
- If the employer is located out of state, make sure to request two certified copies of the income withholding order(s) immediately, in case the employer refuses to honor the California order(s). Having certified copies will ensure you can have the order(s) registered in that state. Coordinate with an attorney in that state, if applicable.
- Have your client call and set up direct deposit with the CA State Disbursement Center.
- Contact information for the CA State Disbursement Unit: 1-866-901-3212, option 1, then option 0.
*The above is not intended to be legal advice.
About the Author:
Sarah A. Thompson is an associate attorney at Hersh Mannis LLP, a boutique family law practice specializing in high asset, complex litigation matters. Sarah previously practiced family law in San Francisco and was an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, her alma mater.