Department of Child Support Services

Employer Information:

EMPLOYER GUIDE & FAQ

Income Withholding and Medical Support

The Lassen Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) is mandated by State and Federal regulations to obtain a court order for income Withholding and medical support. Additionally, the DCSS must proceed with various enforcement actions when a court order is obtained.

Cover Letter & Order

A cover letter from the DCSS identifying the employee by name and social security number (if known) as well as instructions regarding Order/Notice to Withhold remittances is sent to employers. Included with the cover letter is a Order/Notice to Withhold for the employee. The Withholding tells the employer how much to withhold from the employee's earnings for either current support, delinquent support (arrears) or both. It tells the employer where and how to send payments and explains an employer's rights under California law. The employer must provide the DCSS with the case number, participant ID number, the employee's name and withholding dates, in order for DCSS to properly post the payment.

Withholding

It is the responsibility of the employer to provide the employee with a copy of the Order/Notice to Withhold and the blank Request for Hearing (form FL-450) within 10 days of the employer’s receipt of the Withholding. Employers must begin to withhold money from the employee’s net disposable earning no later than 10 days after receiving the Withholding. Thereafter, the law requires that the employer shall send the amounts withheld to DCSS within 7 days of the date the employee is paid.

Employee Dependent Health Insurance

Within 10 days of being served with an National Medical Support Notice (NMSN), the employers must provide the employee with a copy of the order and begin or maintain health insurance coverage of the employee's dependents named on the order if health insurance is available. If no health insurance coverage is available, the Employer Statement of No Health Insurance form must be completed, signed and mailed within 20 days to the DCSS.

FREQUENTLY ASKED EMPLOYER
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION: What earnings are subject to Withholding?

ANSWER: - wages, salary, bonuses, vacation pay, retirement pay, and commissions paid by an employer;

  • payments for services of independent contractors;
  • dividends, interest, rents, royalties, and residuals;
  • patent rights and mineral or other natural resource rights;
  • any payments due as a result of written or oral contracts for services or sales, regardless of title;
  • payments due for workers compensation temporary benefits, or payments from a disability or health insurance policy or program; and
  • any other payments or credits due regardless of source.

QUESTION: What if the employee doesn't earn enough to cover the Withholding?

ANSWER: Disposable earnings are different from gross pay or take-home pay. Disposable earnings are the earnings left after subtracting the money that state or federal law requires an employer to withhold. Generally these required deductions are (1) federal income tax, (2)social security, (3)state income tax, (4)state disability insurance, and (5)mandatory payments to public employees' retirement systems. After the Obligor's disposable earnings are known, withhold the amount required by the Notice, but never withhold more than 50 percent of the disposable earnings unless the court order specifies a higher percentage. Federal law prohibits withholding more than 65 % of disposable earnings of an employee in any case.

QUESTION: What happens if I don't withhold the money from the employee's earnings or don't send the money to DCSS?

ANSWER: An employer who willfully fails to withhold and forward support pursuant to a currently valid Withholding is liable to the DCSS for the amount of support not withheld, forwarded, or otherwise paid to DCSS. Your failure to comply may result in a civil or criminal contempt action against you as the employer.

QUESTION: I can't process the Withholding. It's easier to terminate the employee. If I do, can I get in trouble?

ANSWER: California law prohibits you from firing, refusing to hire, or taking any disciplinary action against any employee ordered to pay support through a Order/Notice to Withhold. Such action can lead to a $500 civil penalty per employee.

QUESTION: My employee says not to withhold, that he or she has worked this out with DCSS. Am I still required to withhold and forward the money to DCSS?

ANSWER: Yes, until you receive a clear request from DCSS to stop.

QUESTION: How do I know when to stop the withholding?

ANSWER: The Withholding remains in effect until you receive written notification from DCSS of any changes to or termination of the Withholding.

QUESTION: I have two Order/Notice to Withholds from two different counties for the same employee. Does one take priority? Which do I pay first?

ANSWER: This can be difficult and confusing. First, add together the amount of support due for each Withholding. If 50% of the Obligor's net disposable earnings will not pay the full amount of the Withholdings for support, prorate the earnings first among both of the current support Withholdings in the same proportion that each Withholdings bears to the total current support owed. Apply any remainder to the Withholdings for arrearage support in the same proportion that each Withholdings bears to the total arrearage owed. If you have any questions, please contact DCSS.

QUESTION: What if the employee is laid off or no longer working?

ANSWER:If the employee is no longer working, you are obligated to notify the DCSS of that fact by faxing or mailing the Termination of Employment Notice upon termination. Should the employee become temporarily unemployed, the Earnings Withholding will remain in effect, and your obligation to deduct and forward support will resume on the day the employee is reinstated or rehired.

QUESTION: What information am I required to provide to the DCSS?

ANSWER: If an employee is laid off or no longer working, an employer must provide the DCSS with the employee's last-known address, as well as the name and address of the new employer, if known. Employers are required to cooperate with and to provide relevant employment information to the DCSS for the purpose of enforcing support obligations. A failure to cooperate could result in the assessment of a civil penalty against the employer.

QUESTION: Is there a Withholding because the employee wouldn't pay child support voluntarily?

ANSWER: No. The Earnings Withholding is a payroll deduction which is legally required in all cases handled by the DCSS. It does not imply any wrongdoing or negligence on the part of the employee, and the employee has no choice in its' implementation.

QUESTION: How do I make out the check?

ANSWER: Make your check payable to the Lassen DCSS. You must indicate the employee's name, social security number, case number, participant ID number and withholding dates, in order for DCSS to properly post the payment. Please attach the payment coupons that have been provided to you to mail with the withholding.

QUESTION: Can I send one check for several employees?

ANSWER: You may use a consolidated check provided that all information, including the withheld amount, is provided for each employee.

QUESTION: How does the employee learn about the Withholding?

ANSWER: The employer is required to provide a copy of the Withholding to the employee within 10 days of receipt. The DCSS encloses one copy for the employer to provide to the employee.

QUESTION: What rights does the employee have to contest the Withholding?

ANSWER: The employee's copy, provided by the DCSS to the employer for service, includes a form called "Request for Hearing Regarding Order/Notice to Withhold." The forms include instructions on how to complete the form so the employee can have a court hearing to determine if the Withholding is appropriate.

QUESTION: What if the employee has other Withholdings or garnishments?

ANSWER: An Earnings Withholding for child support has priority over any other attachment, garnishment, writ of execution, or Withholding absent a specific order from the Superior Court. Child support is paid first.

QUESTION: How soon after the employer receives a National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) does that employer have to enroll a child in a health insurance plan?

ANSWER: An employer has 30 days after service of the coverage Withholding to take steps to commence coverage and provide coverage information to the DCSS. Also, laws require that an employer or insurer shall permit the parent to enroll under health insurance coverage any child without regard to any enrollment period restrictions, when that parent is required to provide coverage for the child(ren).

QUESTION: What if the employer does not provide health insurance for its employees?

ANSWER: Return the Employer Statement of No Health Insurance to the DCSS.

QUESTION: Does an employer have to respond to a coverage Withholding even if they do not provide coverage for their employee's dependents?

ANSWER: Yes. The employer must return the Withholding within 20 days to the DCSS. In addition, the law states the liability for willful failure to comply with Withholding could result in the employer's liability for the amount incurred in health care services that would otherwise have been covered under the insurance policy.

QUESTION: What if the health insurance coverage does not service the area where the child lives?

ANSWER: If the employee is unable to procure other health insurance in the area where the child resides, the employer may still have to enroll the child. The employer should notify the DCSS in writing that the coverage does not service the area where the child lives.

QUESTION: What if the noncustodial parent does not agree that the cost of health insurance is reasonable?

ANSWER: Current laws state that an obligor may go to court to terminate the NMSN if the amount of the premium can be considered unreasonable. Only the court can make that decision. Please encourage your employees to contact the DCSS if they do not agree that the cost of the health insurance is reasonable.

QUESTION: Is the cost of the health insurance coverage included in the amount of the child support ordered?

ANSWER: No. The cost of health insurance is in addition to the child support amount ordered.

QUESTION: Can an employer fire an employee if they have to provide insurance for a child?

ANSWER: No - it's illegal.

QUESTION: When does a NMSN terminate?

ANSWER: An employer may not terminate any coverage until it receives a written notice from the DCSS.

QUESTION: Where can I get more information about Withholdings?

ANSWER: Call your State Child Support Enforcement Agency first. In California, the address is:

  • CA Department of Child Support Services
  • PO Box 419064
  • Rancho Cordova, CA 95741-9064
  • (916) 464-5050
  • Toll Free: (866) 249-0773

Or you may write or call the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) at:

  • Administration for Children and Families
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • 370 L'Enfant Promenade S.W.
  • Washington D.C. 20447
  • (202) 401-9373