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Wage Withholding

Rhode Island law requires that all child support orders established or modified be "garnished from the non-custodial parent's income. In order to accomplish this, there is a National Wage Withholding Form that is currently in use across the country. The form is an order issued by a tribunal, either administrative or judicial, that requires the employer to withhold the child support payment, arrearage payment and/or cash medical order from the employee's wages and remit the amount directly to the Rhode Island Family Court or other entity designated. The court by law is required to order wage withholding in every case where a child support order is issued or modified. The employer must send the payment to the Rhode Island Family Court or other entity designated within seven (7) days of the income being paid or payable to the non- custodial parent. There are only two exceptions to the requirement of wage withholding. First, the Court finds that there is good cause not to order wage withholding or second, that there is a written agreement which provides for a written alternative arrangement for the timely payment of child support.

The Court may not order that the wages be garnished from the employer and paid directly to the custodial parent. That law was abolished. All payments must be sent to the Rhode Island Family Court or other entity designated.

Either party or the Office of Child Support Services may request that a wage withholding order issue without the requirement that the parties return to Court. If an individual applies for services as a brand new customer, but has a previous child support order in effect, a wage withholding order must issue to receive services.

What if the employee is terminated?

The employer is required to report the termination in writing to the Office of Child Support Services within ten (10) days of termination. The notice shall include the last known address of the non-custodial parent and the name and address of the new employer if known. The agency can then send the new wage withholding form to the new employer.

Also, when a new employee is reported through new hire reporting, an income withholding order will be automatically sent to that new employer. This helps in the consistent payment and disbursement of child support.

What happens if the employer does not comply with the order?

If the employer does not comply with the wage withholding order, the employer may be brought before the Rhode Island Family Court for civil contempt. In addition, if the employer withholds and retains the wages, the employer shall be personally liable for the amount withheld and may be assessed costs, interest, and reasonable attorney's fees according to the law.

How long is the wage withholding notice in effect?

The wage withholding notice remains in effect until the employer receives a subsequent notice of termination or modification. The wages must be withheld for as long as the employee is paid wages or income or a subsequent notice is received.

Are there any exceptions to wage witholding?

Under the Consumer Credit Protection Act, the amount withheld for child support, arrearages, cash medical and other child support related payments may not exceed the limits permitted under the Act. That does not mean that the child support order is not due and owing. It only means that there is a limit on the amount that can be withheld.

The following is a notice that is sent to each employee regarding the limits.

Exceptions:

rhode island family court notice of exemptions to
assignment/garnishment of income under 15-5-24 AND 15-5-25

In accordance with Sections 1672 and 1673 of Title 15 of the United States Code, a portion of your earnings are exempt from assignment/garnishment.

Exemptions:

  • (1) Only disposable earnings are subject to assignment/garnishment. Disposable earnings are defined in Section 1672 as "that part of the earnings of any individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld." Federal, State and local income and employment taxes would therefore be deducted from your gross earnings in determining disposable earnings.
  • (2) The assignment/garnishment may not exceed the following maximums permitted under Section 1673.
  • (a) If you are supporting a spouse or dependent child other than the spouse or child with respect to whose support the order is issued, the maximum amount of your disposable earnings that may be garnished or assigned is 50% of such earnings unless you are twelve (12) weeks or more in arrears, in which case the maximum is 55% of such earnings.
  • (b) If you are not supporting a spouse or dependent child other than the spouse or child with respect to whose support the order is issued, the maximum amount of your disposable earnings that may be garnished or assigned is 60% of such earnings unless you are twelve (12) weeks or more in arrears, in which case the maximum is 65% of such earnings.

You have the right to claim the exemptions listed above or any other exemption or defense that you believe is applicable. You may claim these exemptions before the assignment/garnishment becomes effective by asserting them in your answer to the pleadings, or by motion made to the Court, and by presenting evidence in support of the claimed exemptions at a hearing on assignment/garnishment. If you do not affirmatively claim the Federal exemptions, the Court will determine the applicable Federal exemptions based upon its findings of facts.

In addition, you may claim these exemptions after an assignment/garnishment has become effective by filing a motion with the Court asserting the exemptions and presenting evidence in support of the exemptions at a hearing on the motion.