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March 2013

Should You Have Your RI Child Support Garnished?

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Atty Chris Pearsall

Authored By:  Christopher Pearsall, RI Divorce Attorney
a.k.a.  " The Rhode Island Divorce Coach ℠ "

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I am going to court to have child support set for my son's father because I can't do it alone.  I have been told that after the court sets the amount the father will pay me that I can have it paid to me directly, paid to the court directly or garnished from his employer.  Does it matter which one I choose?  What difference does it make?


Yes, it does matter which one you choose if it matters what happens to you in each process.  Here's a quick consideration of each one.

Direct Payment to You - If he pays you the support directly then technically you should receive the support from him at each of his pay periods, therefore you should receive it faster if the father pays on time.  However, the court won't be tracking the child support week by week to keep track of what has been paid and what has not.  There also won't be any tracking of statutory interest that can accrue on all unpaid support by law.

Direct Payment to the Court - If the father pays the support directly to the court, then the court will keep a record of the child support week by week and it will be known what has been paid and what has not been paid as well as a tracking of statutory interest that can accrues on all unpaid support by law.  The downside is that until the payments start flowing in regularly your payments may be delayed for the first few months until your case is in the system for a while.

Garnishment by His Employer - If the child's support is garnished by the employer, the employer collects it but is only required to send it to the court periodically.  The problem with this is that many times an employer will garnish for a whole month of child support and then send it in after it has accrued and owing to you.  In that case if the father gets paid weekly the employer may collect the support each week until it accrues a whole month.  Then even though you are due the monies weekly, the employer will have denied you from receiving them for four (4) whole weeks before even sending them to the State of RI for processing.  If the employer does this, the chances are that it will take another few weeks for the payment to get processed and for you to receive notice that the funds are available on the State EBT card that child support recipients now receive.  

Therefore, you may not receive your first payment until 1 1/2 months into the whole process.  At that point in time you may feel cheated that you didn't receive the money from the father (in this case) even though it was taken out of his check timely each week.  

Also, since the State will keep track of interest on unpaid child support, since the employer took it out weekly and the employer held those monies and only sent it in monthly, the father (or other paying parent) will be penalized with additional interest because there is no system in place to check whether the employer was, in fact, garnishing the monies on a weekly basis which should mean that the father (or other paying parent) should not be paying such interest because he actually paid his child support lawfully in a timely manner.


The answer to your question is whether any of these different factors matter to you significantly.  It would seem to me that the best way for things to be done fairly and correctly is for the paying parent (in your case the father) to pay directly by check, note the payment week that the amount is meant to cover on the check, and keep the canceled checks in the bank statement as evidence of payment.

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