If you have been involved in a family law matter where alimony or child support awards have been ordered, you may have the obligated party’s employer ordered to withhold a portion of their paychecks in order to meet the employee/obligated party’s court ordered payments. With over 75% of support payment being withheld from an obligated party’s income, this is not an uncommon occurrence. However, it is a common question by obligated party, and the recipient party to consider the liability and responsibilities of the employer for these payments. If your employer has failed to adhere to the court order, or you as the recipient have failed to receive these payments, contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.
Florida Statute 61.13 provides for an entry of an income deduction order in any case providing for the payment of child support or alimony. There are many responsibilities of the employer that must be adhered to and failure to do so may result in significant penalties. For example, the Income Deduction Order will be served on the employer of the obligated party and the employer must deduct the specified amount from the obligated party’s income. These deductions are required to begin no later than the first payment date and the employer must provide the State Disbursement Unit with the amount deducted in each pay cycle as well as if the amount deducted satisfied the required order. This notice must be given within 2 days of the payment being due. The employer is permitted to deduct an additional fee from the employee’s paycheck up to $5 for the first deduction and $2 for any subsequent deduction. The employer is bound by the income withholding order until they no longer employ the obligated party or are provided with a court order stating that the withholding order is no longer in effect.
If an employer “fails to deduct the proper amount from the obligor’s income, the [employer] is liable for the amount [they] should have deducted, plus costs, interest, and reasonable attorney’s fees.” Further, the employer is prohibited from refusing to employ, or discharging an employee due to the existence of an income withholding order. If found to have improperly discharged an employee for this reason the employer is subject to civil penalties such as fines and contempt of court proceedings as well as a civil action brought by the employee for reinstatement, wages or benefits lost, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs. Moreover, if the employer no longer employees the obligated party they must inform the state and recipient, of the former employee’s last known address and their new employer. Failure to provide this information subjects the employer to civil penalties.
Although an employer may be ordered by the court to withhold portions of an obligated party’s paycheck for the purposes of fulfilling a support obligation, there are times when this garnishment fails to occur. It is important to know the reason behind the failure, and the methods in which you can seek the proper payment of these funds. If your employer or your former partner’s employer has neglected to adhere to the court order contact a lawyer today to discuss your rights and actions you may need to take.
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