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What is an earnings assignment for child support in California?

In cases where a California couple with children has divorced, there may be concerns that the parent who is ordered to pay child support will not make the payments. Therefore, it is important to know what can be done to ensure payments are made on time and in full. The state has certain methods of ensuring that the child support is paid. One is known as an earnings assignment, alternatively referred to as wage garnishment. Knowing how to get an earnings assignment is key.

Once the decision is made as to how much the supporting parent should pay, the employer of the supporting parent will be informed to deduct the amount from the supporting parent's paycheck. In general, this is how child support is paid. The employer is tasked with withholding the wages when there is the earnings assignment. With child support and spousal support, the child support comes first. Any other support orders come after that.

When the employer is told of the earnings assignment, the employer will have 10 days to begin taking the money from the employee's paycheck. With child support, the payments will not go straight from the employer to the custodial parent. Instead, the payments will go to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU), which will send them to the custodial parent. Should the employer fail to make the deductions, it might be necessary to contact a local child support agency (LCSA).

For couples that have reached the end of a marriage and are trying to navigate how child support will be paid, an earnings assignment can ensure that the payments will be made provided the supporting parent is working and earning an income. Earnings assignment is also available for spousal support. In the end, it is important for both parents to understand how earnings assignment works, so they can be aware of any problems that might arise.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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