Recent case: Employer is required by law to comply with child support wage garnishment orders from the Family Support Division

The employer of a father ordered to pay child support appeals the trial court’s judgments in favor of the Department of Social Services Family Support Division after the employer failed to comply with income withholding orders.

The trial court ruling was affirmed.

When a wage garnishment for child support is sent to an employer, the employee has 30 days to contest the order based only on mistakes of fact as to the identity of the employee or the amount of the withholding (but not the amount of child support actually owed). Garnishment lasts until employer receives notice to cease, with liability to the State for failure to comply.

The trial court was correct in denying employer’s motion to join the child support obligor-employee as a necessary party. Section 454.505 clearly imposes liability directly on employers for failure to comply with the Division’s withholding orders. It does not allow employers to be co-defendants because their underlying child support obligation is not at issue. The only question is whether the employer complied with the Division’s orders.

The trial court’s finding that the employer failed to comply with the Division’s orders is supported by substantial evidence and is not against the weight of the evidence. The Division presented records showing that the employer failed to withhold and pay the ordered amounts. The employer’s attempt to attack the Division’s processes and the employee’s underlying arrears was irrelevant.

Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District – ED101158

Filed March 31, 2015