Custodial parents who are owed child support may be able to get a portion of the noncustodial parent’s Social Security benefits. Federal law says that up to 65 percent of each check may be garnished to pay for current support obligations or back support. However, it is possible that less than that will be garnished depending on the parent’s financial situation.

If a parent is unable to get the entire amount owed after garnishing Social Security benefits, it may be possible to get the rest of the money by going after federal tax refunds. Parents should be aware that SSI benefits cannot be garnished as they are considered welfare as opposed to income.

Before Social Security benefits can be garnished, the custodial parent needs a court order. For a fee that is usually around $25, a parent may apply for child support services offered by the state if the children are still minors. If the children are not minors, a parent may need to hire an attorney to get a court order, or it may be possible to get state services if a parent applied for them while the children were minors. In extreme cases, it may be possible for the government to take over a bank account to fulfill child support obligations.

Parents who are seeking back child support or a court order for child support may wish to talk to a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help a parent recover money that the noncustodial parent owes or get a child support order. Once a support order has been granted, it typically must be adhered to until a judge terminates or modifies the order.