Income Withholding FAQ

Who do I report bonus or lump sum payments to in California?
Report bonus or lump sum payments prior to payout by contacting the Department of Child Support Services at lumpsumresponseteam@dcss.ca.gov or 916-464-6640.
What is an IWO? What is an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (FL-195)?
An IWO, or Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (FL-195), also called the Income Withholding for Support, is an order served on employers, which requires them to garnish or withhold an employee’s wages for payment of child support. This form may also be referred to as: wage assignment, garnishment order, and income withholding order. You may be served by a local child support agency (LCSA), private party, or another state’s child support agency.
Now that I’ve gotten an IWO, what am I supposed to do?

Read it carefully and follow its instructions. You may need to send a copy to the California State Disbursement Unit, depending on who issued the IWO. You do not need to send a copy, if your IWO came from any of the following: the California Department of Child Support Services, a county child support office in California, also called a Local Child Support Agency (LCSA), or another state’s child support agency. If, however, your IWO was issued by an attorney or other private party, then you must send a copy to the address below:

Note:  You do not need to submit a copy of the order if it was issued by an LCSA or another state’s child support agency.  Please do not send payments to this address.

Why does the state need a copy of the IWO on my employee?
This document provides the necessary information that enables the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU) to open a case and ensure payments are processed timely and accurately. All states are under a federal mandate to create a single, statewide case registry of all child support orders and to centralize payment processing. This was established by the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The SDU is that single entity for child support cases in California.
Will I need to send a copy of the IWO with each payment?
No.  You only need to send a copy when there is a change or you receive a new Income Withholding for Support (FL-195) from an attorney or other private party.
The Income Withholding for Support (FL-195) doesn’t have a judge’s signature.  Do I still have to comply with it?

Yes. The Income Withholding for Support is a federally required form and is used in all support cases in all states. The signature of a judicial officer is not required when the order is sent by a Local Child Support Agency (LCSA), which is a county or regional child support office.  If the order is not from an LCSA, you should still consider it valid and send a copy to the California State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU will send you a notification with a Child Support Enforcement case number.

Note:  An IWO is commonly issued whenever a child support case is established and the parent with higher earnings or less custody is employed. It is rare for a parent who is employed to be allowed to pay through other means. Employers shall not use an Income Withholding for Support as grounds for refusing to hire a person or for taking disciplinary action against an employee.  Employers could face civil penalties if they do so.

If an Income Withholding for Support is from another state, must the payment be sent to that state?
Yes.  You must comply with income withholding orders from other states. Instructions on the income withholding order will specify where to mail the payment. Please do not send payments ordered by other states to the California State Disbursement Unit.
What if the name and/or Social Security number on the Income Withholding for Support (FL-195) do not match my employee?
Call the California Department of Child Support Services at 1-866-901-3212 to find out if there is an error in the number or name, or if this could be a case of mistaken identity.
My employee has a Non IV-D case. What is Non-IV-D?
A Non-IV-D case (also known as a private case) is a case that is not filed with a local child support agency (LCSA), but has been prepared and filed by a private attorney, paralegal, or participant on the case. Cases where child support is established and maintained privately, such as following a divorce. Some Non IV-D cases become IV-D cases when they are referred to the Department of Child Support Services in an attempt to collect outstanding, unpaid child support.
Why is the child support agency requesting information about my employee?

The information is requested for a number of reasons:

  • Locating noncustodial parents to serve them with child support actions
  • Requesting wage information to properly determine a child support amount
  • Verifying employment to serve a wage withholding notice
  • Verifying the availability of medical support (includes health care coverage)
  • Delivering other official correspondence
Can my company release this information to the child support agency without violating my employee’s privacy?
Yes. Each LCSA has the legal authority to locate noncustodial parents and their financial assets. State and federal laws require employers to provide this information promptly and as fully as possible. Employees of these agencies are restricted by law from using this information for anything other than the establishment or collection of child support.
What type of information does the child support agency need?
Most verification requests pertain to location, financial resources, and/or the availability of employment-related health insurance.
What does the FL-195 Income Withholding for Support (also referred to as Income Withholding Order/Notice for Support [IWO]) require me to do?
  1. Document the date you received the Order/Notice.
  2. Give a copy of the Order/Notice and the blank Request for Hearing form to the employee within 10 days of receipt. Note: Order/Notices to Withhold Income for Child Support generated by an LCSA do not have to be signed by a judicial officer or filed at Superior Court to be valid orders.
  3. Follow the terms of the order. Begin to withhold money from the employee’s net disposable earnings no later than 10 days after receipt. This usually means you begin deductions at the next pay period after receipt.
  4. Send payments to the State Disbursement Unit within seven working days of the employee’s pay date. Do not wait until the end of the month to send the support. (The withholding limit varies from state to state. California employers may not withhold more than 50% of the employee’s net disposable income unless a higher percentage is expressly ordered by the court.)
  5. When sending payments, provide the following:
    • Employee’s Child support case number
    • Employee’s name
    • Employee’s Social Security number
    • Dates money was withheld. The date the money was withheld is the date the employee was paid, i.e., the pay date.
What forms will I be receiving along with the Order/Notice?
  • A cover letter with instructions on how to implement wage withholding
  • Request for Hearing Regarding Wage and Earnings Assignment and Information sheet
  • A letter for employers to inform the LCSA if the employee leaves this employment. (Notify the issuing LCSA no later than the date of the next payment and provide the employee’s social security number, last known address, and, if known, the name and address of the new employer.)
  • National Medical Support Notice (if applicable)
  • Health Insurance Information form

Note: Employers MAY NOT use an Order/Notice as grounds for refusing to hire a person or for taking disciplinary action against an employee. Employers could face civil penalties if they do so.

The Order/Notice doesn’t have a judge’s signature. Do I still have to comply with it? Is it based on a court order?
Yes. The Order/Notice has been a federally required form since January 1, 2000 and issued in all support cases in all states. The signature of a judicial officer is not required when the Order/Notice is sent by an LCSA. The ongoing support obligation is based on the most recent court order. An arrears payment on an Order/Notice may be based on a court order, but the LCSA also has the authority to administratively set an arrears payment.
What if we believe that wage withholding is too much work or that we should not be involved in this family matter?
Following the terms of an Order/Notice is the law. Employers who fail to comply with an income withholding order for support are liable for the accumulated amount which should have been withheld, plus interest. Willful failure by an employer to comply with an assignment order is punishable as contempt. In addition, an employer who fires, disciplines, or refuses to hire an employee based upon income withholding may be assessed additional civil penalties.
May I allow an employee to pay child support directly to the State Disbursement Unit as long as I know the payments are being made?
No. Direct the employee to contact the issuing LCSA to discuss this request. You must continue to comply with the Order/Notice.
What earnings can be used for child support?
  • Wages, salary, tips, bonuses, vacation pay, retirement pay, regular overtime, and commissions
  • Payments due for services of independent contractors, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, residuals, patent rights, or mineral or other natural resource rights
  • Payments or credits due or becoming due as a result of written or oral contracts for services or sales whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise
  • Payments due for workers’ compensation temporary disability benefits
  • Any other payments or credits due or becoming due, regardless of source
Why did I receive a noncompliance letter when I am currently sending payments?
California’s automated child support system issues two different types of noncompliance letters. The first noncompliance letter is issued on a case 45 days after a wage assignment is sent and NO payments have been received. The second noncompliance letter issues 45 days after ongoing wage assignment payments stop. If you receive a noncompliance letter and you are remitting payments, contact the LCSA. This could be a case of a misapplied payment or an error in the automated system.
How much does the employee owe? When can I stop garnishing?
You will be notified when it is appropriate to stop garnishing the employee’s wages.
Can you verify the receipt of the payments our company is sending to your office?
Yes. Receipt of payments can be verified by calling: 866-901-3212.
I am already deducting and remitting payments. Why do I keep receiving Order/Notices for this employee?
This could be a new or amended Order/Notice recently obtained by the child support agency. Check the court order number and verify that the court order is the same as the previous Order/Notice. Ensure that the number and identity of the children, and the amounts ordered, have not changed from the previous Order/Notice.

Additional Questions

What do I do if I have additional questions?

Please consult additional employer-related FAQs available at DCSS Frequently Asked Questions.

  • Additional information can be found in the Employer Handbook or by calling 1-866-901-3212.