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Wage-garnishing laws can bring child support fight to employers

Many divorced couples in Jersey City, New Jersey, have fought over unpaid child support in the past, and many will do so in the future. In some cases, the noncustodial parent chooses not to pay. In others, she or he may be unable to pay. This latter situation is when a support modification should be sought. Not all child support fights boil down to just two parties. In fact, one woman's fight is currently with the company who pays her ex-husband, even though he is the one who owes between $20,000 and $30,000 in overdue support.

Her claim against the man's main source of income, Blue Cross, is that she asked them to withhold support payments from her ex-husband after he stopped making payments that were accurate and on-time. According to records, the couple has three children and divorced in 2008. The ex-husband is a self-employed chiropractor and was required to make payments of $930 per week that accounted for child support, alimony and medical insurance premiums. She sent a withholding notice to Blue Cross when his payments became inaccurate and improperly timed, but the company said in a letter that it does not get involved in personal cases. That letter also stated that Blue Cross was not allowed to set up something like this for the provider.

In response, the ex-wife sent a second notice along with a copy of the law surrounding withholding notices in her state of Illinois. A legal complaint was filed in September 2008 after the company refused the withholding notice once more. In February 2009, a trial court ruled against the woman but in August 2010, an appellate court reversed the decision and said that Blue Cross failed to abide by the law when the withholding notice was received. According to her state's law, the payor is required to garnish the paychecks of a person who is the target of a withholding notice. In this case, the company failed to do so and may now be forced to pay as much as $5 million to the woman. Wage garnishing is also apparent in New Jersey, thus highlighting the value of this out-of-state story.

Chicago Tribune, "Woman battling Blue Cross over child support" Lisa Black, Sep. 01, 2013

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