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Frequently Asked Questions
About Child Support Enforcement Services

State of Alaska  > Revenue  > Child Support Services  > FAQ Menu  > Child Support Enforcement Services FAQs
 

Table of Contents

  1. How does the Alaska child support agency enforce support orders?
  2. How much will the agency take from a parentís wages?
  3. What if a parent can't afford to pay the entire monthly support payment from a paycheck?
  4. The additional withholding will cause a hardship, what options do I have?
  5. What happens to the monthly payments and any child support debt after the custodial parent has gone off public assistance?
  6. What if the custodial parent does not want CSSD to collect child support for him/her?
  7. If the person who applied for CSSD's services withdraws, does the child support debt go away?
  8. Can CSSD collect from federal tax refunds? What happens to money collected from IRS refunds?
  9. How can the child support agency collect payments from a self-employed parent?
  10. Can the child support agency take a Permanent Fund Dividend to pay child support?
  11. Can the child support agency take some of a parentís unemployment benefits?
  12. Can past-due child support be taken from a state income tax refund?
  13. Can the agency help collect child support owed to a parent before the agency opened its case?
  14. Can a noncustodial parent escape child support payments by declaring bankruptcy?
  15. CSSD has ordered the employer to withhold medical support. May either parent object?
  16. May the noncustodial parent have his/her current spouse add the children to their plan?
  17. What happens to child support payments if the custodial parent is on public assistance?
  18. What if the custodial parent already has the child(ren) covered and the non-custodial parent gets notice to withhold for medical support?
  19. Why are you withholding medical support? My children are covered by Denali Kid Care?

1. How does the Alaska child support agency enforce support orders?

We collect child support as ordered by the court in divorce, dissolution and child custody cases. We also collect child support under administrative orders issued by the Child Support Services Division or other states.

To collect support payments, we issue orders to withhold and deliver income or other property. Any of a noncustodial parentís property, including wages, commissions, retirement checks, bank accounts, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, stock dividends and income-producing property such as rentals can be subject to withholding. However, most orders are issued against wages. Under a wage-withholding order, an employer is ordered to automatically withhold a noncustodial parent's wages and send the money to the child support agency, which will forward it to the custodial parent.

Other collection methods may include voluntary payments by the noncustodial parent, seizure of IRS tax refunds, liens against the parentís property and revocation of state occupational and driver's licenses.

2. How much will the agency take from a parentís wages?

At a minimum, the agency is required to take enough money to cover the monthly child support obligation. If there is past-due child support, the agency also must take something to start paying off the debt and interest.

Generally, in Alaska, the maximum that can be withheld from a paycheck is 40% of the net disposable earnings. If the paying parent has health insurance coverage, the maximum that can be withheld, counting cost of the health care coverage ordered by CSSD, is 50%. There are circumstances when the withholding can be more, such as when the parent who owes has tried to avoid paying or is a seasonal employee.

However, in no circumstances can the withholding exceed the federal limits. Under the Consumer Protection Act, the maximum withholding from net disposable earnings is 50% if the person is supporting another spouse or child and 60% if not. Those maximums increase by 5% each if withholding is for a support order more than 12 weeks in arrears.
 

3. What if a parent can't afford to pay the entire monthly support payment from a paycheck?

CSSD can reduce the amount withheld from wages due to a hardship. A hardship may be granted if the obligor's household income is 150 percent of the poverty guideline, the obligor has a significant illness or disability that prevents her/him from working, the obligor lives a subsistence lifestyle or has physical custody of one or more children under a valid custody order.

The withholding cannot be reduced below the monthly support obligation. If the monthly support is too high, request a modification of the order. Contact your CSSD caseworker if you have questions. Forms for requesting hardships and modifications of orders may be found on our Website.

4. The additional withholding will cause a hardship, what options do I have?

If the additional withholding will cause an unusual hardship, you may complete a hardship request or contact CSSD immediately. We will assist you in completing the necessary documentation to support your request for hardship.

5.  What happens to the monthly payments and any child support debt after the custodial parent has gone off public assistance?

Custodial parents who move off cash assistance are entitled to the regular monthly child support payment the same as before they went on assistance -- as long as the support order is still in effect. Money collected is applied first to the monthly ongoing support. Any additional money is applied first to cover any payments owed to the custodial parent. Money owed to the state is paid last.

6. What if the custodial parent does not want CSSD to collect child support for him/her?

A custodial parent may withdraw from services if she/he was the person who applied for services or a case was opened when they went on cash assistance. If there is money owed to a state, CSSD will continue to collect the state debt. If you want to withdraw from services, you may use our form (found on the website) or simply send a letter asking to withdraw from services.

When custodial parents go off public assistance we send them a letter. The letter tells them that if they do not want to continue support they may withdraw from CSSD's services.

7. If the person who applied for CSSD's services withdraws, does the child support debt go away?

No, the paying parent is still required to pay current and past due child support. The custodial parent may at any time reapply for services or apply for public assistance. At that time CSSD will begin collecting current and past due support. The paying parent must keep track of payments made. Otherwise, they will not be subtracted from the debt.

8. Can CSSD collect from federal tax refunds? What happens to money collected from IRS refunds?

Yes, CSSD can request that the IRS send us the refund of a parent who owes child support. If the custodial parent is not currently on public assistance, the IRS refund will go to the custodial parentís debt first, then the state debt. If the custodial parent is receiving public assistance and there is a debt owed to the state, the IRS refund goes to the state.

 If the noncustodial parent files a joint return with a current spouse, CSSD will hold the IRS refund for six months. This gives the spouse of the noncustodial parent an opportunity to recover her/his portion of the refund.

9. How can the child support agency collect payments from a self-employed parent?

Cases involving self-employed parents can be the most challenging to the agency, and often take more time and effort than other cases. If a self-employed parent declines to make voluntary payments or allow automatic income withholding, it may be possible to place liens on payments to the business from regular clients or to collect money directly from the business bank account. The business also could lose its state occupational license if the owner fails to pay child support, and this risk may encourage the owner to make support payments. Delinquent cases also will be reported to credit bureaus and this, too, is a strong incentive for business owners to pay their child support.

Because these cases are harder to work than those of employed parents, please provide your child support caseworker with as much information as possible about the noncustodial parentís business. The agency has access to Internal Revenue Service information to help determine a self-employed personís income and assets for setting a monthly child support obligation.

10. Can the child support agency take a Permanent Fund Dividend to pay child support?

Yes, state law allows the agency to take all or part of an Alaskanís annual dividend check if there is past due child support.

11. Can the child support agency take some of a parentís unemployment benefits?

Yes. Unemployment compensation, and other state and federal benefits, can be tapped for child support. Ask your caseworker about the procedures, and make sure you tell your caseworker immediately if there are changes in the parentís employment situation.

12. Can past-due child support be taken from a state income tax refund?

Under federal law, states must turn over personal income tax refunds to help pay child support debts. Though Alaska has no personal income tax, the Alaska child support agency can ask other states to take a noncustodial parentís tax refund to cover a child support debt owed on an Alaska case.

13. Can the agency help collect child support owed to a parent before the agency opened its case?

Yes, if there was an order for support. We would verify the amount owed.

14. Can a noncustodial parent escape child support payments by declaring bankruptcy?

Child support payments generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This means that a parent who owes child support cannot escape the debt by filing for bankruptcy. Bankruptcies also cannot stay, or put on hold, actions to establish paternity or to establish or modify child support obligations. The relationship between child support and bankruptcy law is complex, however, and you may need the help of someone familiar with bankruptcy law to answer specific questions.

15. CSSD has ordered the employer to withhold for medical support. May either parent object?

Yes. You have 30 days to complete and return to CSSD the bottom portion of the Notice informing you of this withholding. We will review the request and decide if there is a good reason to stop medical support. The medical support may be stopped if the custodial parent is providing insurance or the child is covered by Indian Health Service or TriCare/CHAMPUS.

16. May the noncustodial parent have his/her current spouse add the children to their medical plan?

Yes, this is considered alternate coverage and will stop the withholding.

17. What happens to child support payments if the custodial parent is on public assistance?

The noncustodial parent must continue to pay child support while the other parent and the children receive public assistance. However, parents who receive cash assistance, such as through the Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP), must agree to let the state keep any child support payments owed for that time as well as any payments owed to the custodial parent when benefits began. This is to help at least partially repay the state for the cost of public assistance benefits.

18. What if the custodial parent already has the child(ren) covered and the noncustodial parent gets notice to withhold for medical support?

Contact us immediately if the order allows for either parent to provide coverage. Once confirmed we can terminate the withholding.

19. Why are you withholding medical support? My children are covered by Denali Kid Care?

Since Denali Kid Care is federally funded and part of Medicaid, CSSD must withhold for medical coverage reimbursement.
 

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