Garnishment of Social Security For Child Support and Alimony

Last Updated: January 10, 2023 • 5 min read
Author: Zach L.

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By federal law, your benefits from social security are likely to be garnished if you fail to pay child support or alimony dues promptly.

Garnishment of Social Security For Child Support and Alimony

Divorces come with plenty of paperwork and one of the biggest paperwork involved is when it comes to alimony. Many individuals fail to meet their alimony criteria, thus ending up with unpaid dues. Non-payment of alimony dues may happen due to financial crises like losing a job and personal issues that affect your work among others. However, another common reason for non-payment occurs when one party intentionally withholds the money citing that they are tired of making constant alimony payments.

But how to garnish social security for alimony and does it happen? The quick answer is Yes. By federal law, your benefits from social security are likely to be garnished if you fail to pay child support dues promptly. Your social security benefit can be garnished every time there is an issuance of a court order and when every obligation cited in the valid garnishment order is not addressed. In these events, the alimony payment will be directly charged from your ex-partner's employee account or any other bank account that is connected to any source of income.

What type of social security benefits can be garnished due to non-payment of alimony dues?

When it comes to non-payment of alimony, multiple types of social security benefits may be deemed as an individual’s income in the United States according to the social security act.

Social Security Disability Insurance

First, we have the SSDI payments or the Social Security Disability insurance that individuals qualify for if they are in not in a physical or mental state to work. The SSDI benefits you are likely to receive will depend on the years you have spent working and the type of SSD program you have opted for.

Supplemental Security Income

Next, we have another government program for disability assistance known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI payments). To qualify for SSI benefits you have to be physically or mentally unable to work. The final income will not depend on your employment details or past work experience.

Social Security Retirement Benefits

Finally, we have retirement benefits which are also another major part of all social security programs. As you would probably guess from the name, you are entitled to this benefit following retirement. However, as with the majority of employment benefits, this too will depend on the individual's past tenure of work and the amount they have invested in the retirement program based on how much income they earned the amount of the benefit can vary wildly. These are also not exempt from garnishment of benefits.

Collecting Unpaid Alimony

Collecting Unpaid Alimony

If your ex-partner or former spouse is legally bound with alimony obligations or child support payments and you have legitimate court orders, your spouse is governed by law to make the payment. In case they fail to do so, the first step may be to find the reason behind it.

Upon reviewing the situation if it appears to be beyond your partner's control, try to arrange a mutually beneficial plan that will enable your ex-partner to pay alimony once they are financially capable. Before making that decision, be extremely clear with your ex-partner that you will leave no stone unturned to get the issue in court if needs be. Alternatively, if your spouse is purposely withholding payments you may need to seek the counsel of a family law attorney to address the situation and determine how to get the monthly payment flowing once more using state law.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I garnish my ex's Social Security?

You will have to start the legal process for social security garnishment. In the eyes of federal agencies, a garnishment is the last option. The court system will order a lump sum or payment plan to get alimony in order before a social security benefit garnishment is established.

Can I stop my ex from getting my Social Security benefits?

No, you are unable to stop your ex from claiming your social security. There are divorce decrees that include the relinquishment of the other spouse's social security income legal obligation. However, the Social Security Administration has shared that those additional provisions are not enforceable. So as a general rule, don't rely on your divorce decree to save your social security check.

What is the 10-year marriage rule for Social Security?

To be eligible for your ex-spouse's monthly social security benefits you must have been married for a minimum of 10 years. On top of that, if you remarry and that new marriage doesn't end in death, divorce, or annulment you are also not eligible for those benefits from the federal government.

Final Thoughts

As you probably understand at this point, your social security benefits are likely to be garnished if you fail to pay alimony in due course. That is why it is crucial to consult a lawyer to sort the paperwork and understand the legal specifics of the situation before taking any major step. One of the best places to research any questions is the Social Security Administration Website.

This post is not legal advice and as stated please consult with a legal professional.