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Unpaid child support and an ex-spouse's government benefits

A custodial parent in North Carolina who is not receiving child support from an ex-spouse might wonder about whether Social Security benefits can be garnished. Some types of government benefits can be garnished, but others administered through Social Security cannot. In the case of SSI, Supplemental Security Income, for example, the benefit is viewed as a type of welfare and cannot be garnished. However, retirement or disability benefits that are not SSI-related could be.

In addition to seeking the garnishment of an ex-spouse's benefits, a custodial parent might want to explore the possibility of filing for Social Security benefits under the child's disabled or retired parent. When a parent is approved for such benefits, family benefits are typically also available for minor children. This amount may be affected based on whether the qualified individual has additional children or a spouse being covered under their benefits.

In seeking assistance with wage garnishment, it may be necessary to work with the state department in charge of child support oversight. If the children in question are not minors, however, a private lawyer may be necessary for seeking any back support that is due. In addition to the garnishment of government benefits administered by Social Security, there may be a possibility of tapping into income tax returns to satisfy child support arrears. Even a bank account could be accessed in some situations if this would not affect the ex-spouse's ability to survive.

An individual who is unsure of all options in dealing with a retired or disabled ex who owes support might want to discuss the options with a family lawyer. This may provide direction for correctly submitting a claim for a child's portion of those Social Security benefits. Additionally, a lawyer may be able to provide assistance in enforcing an existing child support agreement.

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