Attention Employers: The process for making electronic payments is changing starting April 2020. Read here for more information.
Employers have a direct impact on the lives of children and help families attain and keep their financial independence. As a key partner in California’s child support program, employer responsibilities regarding child support fall into five areas: 1) report new hires; 2) withhold wages; 3) enroll dependent children in healthcare insurance; 4) remit payments to the SDU; and 5) report terminated employees. A complete explanation of these duties is outlined in an employer’s guide published by the state which is available to view by clicking here.
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Are you an employer that has a question about child support? Contact us today by e-mail at: EMPLOYER@CSDACA.ORG. Your question will be sent to a child support expert who will get back to you shortly with the answer you need.
In the meantime, please visit our FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS page.
Common Questions - Income Withholding Orders
Q: When must I start withholding income after receiving the Income Withholding Order?
A: Within 10 days of receiving an Income Withholding Order the employer must notify the employee named and provide him/her with a copy of the Order/Notice, and a blank Request for Hearing Regarding Earnings Assignment with information and instruction sheet. The employer must begin withholding the amount specified in the order no later than the first pay period occurring 10 days after receipt of the Income Withholding Order.
Q: When must I start remitting payment?
A: The employer must remit the payment to the SDU within 7 working days of the pay date/date of withholding. The employer may charge the employee an administrative fee of up to $1.50 for each payment made per the employee’s Income Withholding Order.
Q: How much can be withheld from an employee’s income?
A: Generally, the maximum amount that can be withheld to satisfy an Income Withholding Order is 50% of an employee’s net disposable income. Net disposable income is the wages left after taxes and mandatory fees, includes but is not limited to: income taxes, Social Security/Medicare (FICA), unemployment insurance, union dues and mandatory retirement deductions.
Q: What happens when I terminate the employee?
A: When an employee with a child support obligation through a local child support agency leaves your company, notify the local child support agency as soon as possible. The Income Withholding Order includes a Termination Notice that can be sent to the local child support agency.
Q: Where do I send payments?
A: Under state and federal law, employers are required to remit all California child support income withholding payments to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU). This includes any child support payments the employer may be currently sending to individuals. For assistance in redirecting payments from individuals to the SDU, employers are advised to call 1-866-901-3212 for assistance.
Q: Can payments be issued electronically?
A: Employers are encouraged to send payments electronically. These transactions are faster, more accurate and less expensive to process than paper checks. The SDU offers two electronic payment options: 1) electronic funds transfer (EFT) via automated clearing house (ECH) credit-this service allows employers to instruct their financial institution to automatically transmit child support payments, along with child support income withholding data, using the ACH network; 2) EFT-ACH Debit or by Credit Card- This service allows employers to make payments by electronic debit from a checking or savings account, or with a Visa or MasterCard credit card.
Q: How do I sign up for electronic payment?
A: To enroll in Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or for payment assistance, call the SDU Electronic Help Desk at 1-866-901-3212. If interested in making payment by electronic debit (from a bank account or credit card), visit the SDU website, select Employer, and click on Make a Payment. Once enrolled, employers can make payments suing the E-Pay feature or by using the SDU’s Integrated Voice Response telephone system by calling 1-866-901-3212.
Q: Can I send a check?
A: Employers can send checks to: California State Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 989067, West Sacramento, CA 95798-9067. If an employer has more than one employee with a child support obligation, the payments may be combined into a single check. When paying by check, regardless of the number of employees, it is essential to include the following information for each employee: employee name; child support enforcement case number; employee social security number; date money was withheld; the amount withheld for each employee; and include a company contact name and phone number.
Q: What if the Income Withholding Order amount is not withheld?
A: Employers who fail to withhold the amounts as specified on the Income Withholding Order may be found liable for the full amount of the support owed, plus a fine. Under certain circumstances, a willful failure to withhold is punishable by contempt of court. In addition, the court may order payment by electronic funds transfer from the employer’s bank account if the employer has willfully failed to withhold the required support.
Common Questions - National Medical Support Notice
Q: How do I comply with the National Medical Support Notice?
A: A copy of the National Medical Support Notice (“NMSN”) must be given to your employee within 10 days after receipt. If health insurance is available, you must enroll the employee’s dependent(s) named on the order within 30 days and return the “Plan Administrator Response” with the medical insurance form, insurance card(s), and/or booklets to the child support agency.
Q: What do we do with the medical identification cards?
A: Send the identification cards, along with information identifying the employee to our office and we will forward them to the custodial parent.
Q: What if I don’t offer health insurance to my employees?
A: Return the NMSN to our office within 20 business days with an explanation as to why the insurance is not available (e.g., employee is part-time or no longer employed or on probation). If the employee is on probation and will be eligible for health insurance in the future, please indicate the start date on the returned form. When coverage is available, enroll the child(ren) and send the completed NMSN form along with any insurance cards and/or booklets to DCSS.
Q: If multiple plans are available, which one should the child(ren) be enrolled in?
A: You may enroll the child(ren) in the same health plan as the employee if that plan provides coverage in the dependents’ county of residence.
Q: What if our employee has elected not to maintain any insurance?
A: The children should be enrolled in any plan that will reasonably provide coverage where they live, unless the court has ordered coverage by a specific plan.
Q: Can I wait for open enrollment?
A: No. You must begin coverage at the earliest possible time. The National Medical Support Notice is considered to be a Qualified Medical Child Support Order (QMCSO). By law, a QMCSO requires an employer to permit the employee to enroll any child, who is otherwise eligible for health insurance coverage, without regard to enrollment period restrictions.
Q: Do I pay the insurance premiums directly to the provider or to the DCSS?
A: You need to send the insurance premiums directly to the insurance provider. Do not send insurance premiums to the Department of Child Support Services.
Q: What do I do if there is a lapse in coverage?
A: It is your responsibility to notify our office of any lapses in coverage.
Q: What if the insurance premium and support is more than 50% of the employee’s income?
A: Current support must be paid first then health insurance costs. If your employee cannot meet the current support and pay for the health insurance premium, pay the current support only then submit an inquiry form as soon as possible notifying our office of the reasons for not honoring the National Medical Support Notice. Additionally, employers must specify on this form the exact cost that would be incurred if the child(ren) were added to the employee's healthcare policy.
Q: Do we also have to enroll the child(ren) in dental and vision coverage?
A: Yes, the child(ren) should be enrolled if dental and/or vision coverage is offered by the employer.
Q: What if the employee says they are covering the child/ren in an outside insurance plan?
A: You are still responsible for enrolling the minor child/ren in a health insurance plan unless you receive a court order or hear otherwise from the Department of Child Support Services. The employee must provide proof of outside coverage to the Department of Child Support Services before the order can be terminated.
Q: Can our company force an employee to sign the health insurance enrollment application?
A: You cannot force an employee to sign an enrollment application. All insurance companies, however, must honor the National Medical Support Notice. If an employee refuses to sign an enrollment application, write “court ordered” in place of the employee’s signature.
For information on obtaining health insurance coverage through Covered California, visit the Covered California website here