FAQs for Employers

We have answers to the most common child support questions from employers.

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Can I withhold child support from lump-sum type payments?

Yes, child support can be withheld up to 50 percent of a lump-sum payment after mandatory deductions. The definition of income is money owed to an employee and includes but is not limited to: money paid for personal services, including wages, salary, bonus, commission, pension, or retirement payments. Income received as an independent contractor, cash dividends from stocks or bonds, unemployment compensation, disability, and workers compensation benefits are all considered income as well.

If the employee is due to receive any type of lump sum or benefit, you may be required to withhold from that income. Contact Employer Services at 503-378-2868 for assistance.

What is “disposable income”?

Disposable income is defined as the part of an individual’s income remaining after the deduction of any amounts required to be withheld by law. In Oregon, mandatory deductions are: federal, state and local income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, workers compensation, and any statutory retirement payments.

What if my employee’s available disposable income is less than the pay period amount on the order?

Cash support (including spousal support) is withheld first, health care coverage premiums second, and “other” is last. If the employee has multiple notices for withholding, withhold first cash support (current and arrears) for all cases on a proportionate-share basis, then equally apply any remaining amounts to all orders with arrears. If any income is left after cash support is withheld, then withhold for the health care coverage, and “other” would follow.

Do I have to tell the employee that I, as an employer, have received a notice to withhold income for child support?

The Oregon Child Support Program sends a copy of the income withholding order and notice to the employee when we send the document to the employer. If the order and notice was sent by another state, you must provide a full copy to the employee.

The notice from another state references the issuing state’s laws instead of Oregon laws. Which do I follow?

Follow the withholding laws of the state in which the employee works with regard to:

  • employer fee (maximum allowed).
  • employer fee frequency.
  • disposable earnings exclusion.
  • exceptions to federal CCPA limits.
  • allocation of multiple orders.
  • exception to seven business day remittance.
  • order retention when employee terminates.
  • maximum withholding amounts.

If your employee works in different states, follow the laws of the state to which you report quarterly payroll earnings.

Why is my employee now delinquent when I’ve paid every payment on time since the employee started working for me?

There are a number of reasons the employee’s child support case may now show as delinquent. For example, there could have been a recent change in the child support order amount, or the employer may not have received the Order/Notice to withhold in time for payroll the first month it was issued and a payment was missed. The missed payment would have caused a delinquency in the case. If you have questions, contact the issuing agency or the Employer Services Central Unit at 503-378-2868.

Can I, as an employer, charge the employee a fee for processing the withholding?

In Oregon, a fee of up to $5.00 per month per case can be charged to each employee. This fee is deducted from the employee’s remaining income and not the child support payment, unless withholding is 50 percent of the employee’s disposable income. In this case, withhold the fee from the amount you send to us or the issuer of the order and notice. Oregon law states that the amount withheld, including the employer’s fee, cannot exceed 50 percent of the employee’s disposable income.

Do I have to withhold at the frequency on the notice?

Employers do not have to vary their pay cycles to comply with the income withholding order. For the convenience of the employer, the notice provides the total to be withheld and the corresponding amounts for weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly pay cycles. Send the withheld income payment to the Oregon Department of Justice within seven working days of the pay date and date of withholding.

What if there is an existing IRS levy or a garnishment for the employee and I receive an order to withhold income for child support?

A levy from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) takes priority over a child support income withholding order only if the IRS levy was served before the original child support order was established. Oregon law states that an income withholding order for child support has priority over any other garnishment, regardless of which was served first. Questions regarding the levy or garnishment must be directed to the issuing entity of the levy or garnishment.

What if my employee wants to make a voluntary deduction for child support, or increase the amount withheld in excess of the income withholding order?

The employee would need to contact the assigned child support agency, either the Oregon Child Support Program or another state’s child support agency. You, as the employer, are required to withhold the amount noted on the income withholding order. An employee can make additional payments by personal check or money order to the issuing agency.