Massachusetts Child Support Collections and Fees
UPDATED: April 10, 2011
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An employer served with a Massachusetts child support collections order is bound by law to enforce the order until its expiration. While this can mean extra responsibilities for the employer, the employer should be sure to stay on top of their withholding duties, because the penalties for noncompliance with child support collections are harsh. Since child support collections can mean extra costs for the employer, Massachusetts wage garnishment law allows the employer to charge a small fee for withholding every payday. If the employer has questions about the withholding process, they are encouraged to contact the Massachusetts office of child support.
Income Subject to Withholding for Child Support Garnishment
In Massachusetts, income is defined as any payment made, periodic or not, that is due to an individual. This includes, but is not limited to, wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, unemployment compensation, workers' compensation, disability, pension plans or other retirement payments, military pay, severance pay, salary advance, and interest. The noncustodial parent should be aware that any form of income is subject to child support withholding in Massachusetts.
Bonuses and Other Lump Sum Payments
Because bonuses, severance pay, and other types of lump sum payments are defined as income subject to withholding for child support, an employer in Massachusetts is required to report a lump-sum payment owed to the noncustodial parent.
Termination of Employment
When an employee subject to a support order retires or otherwise stops working for the employer, the employer must report this to the issuing agency promptly. The employer should send a copy of the support order to the agency, including the company name, the employee name and address, the date of termination of employment, and if known, the new employer address, or the name and address for the administrator of the pension plan. If the employee is laid off, the employer must also notify the agency immediately. If the employee returns to work within thirty days, the employer should continue to make deductions form the employee's paycheck. If the employee comes back to work for the employer after thirty days, the employer should treat the employee as they would a new hire subject to a support order, and follow the instructions on the order for submitting new-hire reports.
An employer may deduct up to $1 per employee, per support payment they withhold and remit to the agency. The fee must come out of the employee's wages, and not the support payment. The employer should remember that the total support payment and fee must never exceed Massachusetts withholding limits.
Penalty for Noncompliance
An employer is bound by law to enforce an order that they are served with. If they fail to do so, the employer will be held liable for the full amount that they failed to withhold and/or remit, as well as a civil penalty of $500 per payment missed, or the total amount due, whichever is greater.
Massachusetts State Office of Child Support – Contact Information
Child Support Enforcement
51 Sleeper St.
Boston, MA. 02210-9492
Phone: (800) 332-2733