Child Support Enforcement:

States Proceed With Immediate Wage Withholding; More HHS Action Needed

HRD-93-99: Published: Jun 15, 1993. Publicly Released: Jun 15, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the states' progress in implementing a provision of the Family Support Act of 1988, which requires the immediate withholding of noncustodial parents' wages for child support.

GAO found that: (1) all states, except New York, have or expect to have immediate wage withholding (IWW) procedures in place by January 1, 1994; (2) the most common practice used to privately enforce IWW outside the Title IV-D child support enforcement system requires the parents' private attorneys to petition the court to issue a child support order providing for IWW; (3) although most states have or plan to have a designated public agency to track and monitor IWW payments, 12 states have not designated an enforcement agency, and one state is uncertain about how IWW will be administered; (4) states have adopted various IWW opt-out provisions as part of their implementation of IWW in non-Title IV-D child support cases; (5) although implementation of IWW for non-Title IV-D child support cases has had little impact on federal and state budgets, state child support systems, and the courts, its effectiveness in increasing child support collections is unknown; (6) small businesses have complained about the additional administrative burden placed upon them because they do not have automated payroll systems that can easily accommodate the task of withholding and forwarding child support payments; and (7) large employers have expressed concerns about the lack of standardization among court orders, missing or incomplete information on court orders, and conflicting orders for the same noncustodial parent.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation is no longer applicable because the effective date of this requirement has already passed.

    Recommendation: To further assist states in effectively implementing IWW for non-Title IV-D child support orders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should direct the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to ensure that all states designate by January 1994 a public agency to administer IWW to comply with the Family Support Act's requirement.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: While HHS has yet to issue the required report, this recommendation is no longer valid because the effective date of this requirement has passed.

    Recommendation: To further assist states in effectively implementing IWW for non-Title IV-D child support orders, the Secretary of Health and Human Services should seek the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) approval to release the HHS report on IWW.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services

 

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