Working Together for
America’s Children

American Payroll Association
American Bar Association
Office of Child Support Enforcement

Use of the Standardized Income Withholding Form
Fact Sheet

The Program

The Child Support Enforcement Program was established under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act in 1975. Although it has expanded greatly since inception, the program’s goals remain the same: to ensure that children are supported by both parents and to reduce public assistance expenditures.

Income withholding, the procedure by which automatic deductions are made from income to pay a debt, is key to the collection of child support. In fact, almost 60% of child support collected comes from income withholding, and in 1998 this amounted to more than $8 billion of the $14.4 billion collected nationally. Once a withholding is in place, payments are more likely to flow to the family regularly.

Immediate income withholding became mandatory November 1, 1990 for child support orders issued or modified through a State child support enforcement agency. For all other orders, mandatory immediate income withholding was required for those issued on or after January 1, 1994. Welfare reform legislation brought about several changes to income withholding including the change that makes different types of income, not just wages, subject to withholding. It also required the States to adopt the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), which has a direct income withholding provision. This provision allows for income withholding to be initiated in one State and sent to an employer in another State without the necessity of involving a tribunal or the child support agency in either State. This process applies to all cases, including those handled by private attorneys.

The Employer Issue

Many employers have expressed concerns about the many different forms being used to initiate income withholding. The different forms were at times confusing, left out pertinent information, and required more time to validate. The employer community, recognizing its duty to honor any income withholding order deemed “regular on its face,” asked for help with this problem. In response, a standardized form was developed to alleviate the confusion, facilitate implementation of income withholding, and streamline the process.


How can you help?

In 1997, the federal government published a standardized form called “Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support”. Its use is mandated by 42 USC 666(a)(8)(B) for “all child support orders which are initially issued in the State on or after January 1, 1994”. The form greatly facilitates income withholding for both public agencies and the private bar. Employers have the responsibility to implement any income withholding order that appears “regular on its face”. Since employers recognize the standardized form and understand its terms, its use can assist in their determination of validity and eliminate delays.

The form contains standardized data elements that help the employer deduct child and medical support payments more efficiently. Specifically, the form tells the employer:

When using this form, be sure to include a phone number where you can be reached and be prepared to answer any questions the employer may have. The form can be obtained from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) web site at: http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cse/pol/at-9803.htm. Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact one of the individuals listed below:

Carol Callahan
Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement
Employer Services
202-401-6969
ccallahan@acf.dhhs.gov

Michael O’Toole
American Payroll Association
212-686-2030
motoole@americanpayroll.org

Laura Morgan
American Bar Association
804-817-6574
goddess@supportguidelines.com