42 U.S. Code § 659 - Consent by United States to income withholding, garnishment, and similar proceedings for enforcement of child support and alimony obligations
(a) Consent to support enforcement
Notwithstanding any other provision of law (including section 407 of this title and section 5301 of title 38), effective January 1, 1975, moneys (the entitlement to which is based upon remuneration for employment) due from, or payable by, the United States or the District of Columbia (including any agency, subdivision, or instrumentality thereof) to any individual, including members of the Armed Forces of the United States, shall be subject, in like manner and to the same extent as if the United States or the District of Columbia were a private person, to withholding in accordance with State law enacted pursuant to subsections (a)(1) and (b) ofsection 666 of this title and regulations of the Secretary under such subsections, and to any other legal process brought, by a State agency administering a program under a State plan approved under this part or by an individual obligee, to enforce the legal obligation of the individual to provide child support or alimony.
(b) Consent to requirements applicable to private person
With respect to notice to withhold income pursuant to subsection (a)(1) or (b) ofsection 666 of this title, or any other order or process to enforce support obligations against an individual (if the order or process contains or is accompanied by sufficient data to permit prompt identification of the individual and the moneys involved), each governmental entity specified in subsection (a) of this section shall be subject to the same requirements as would apply if the entity were a private person, except as otherwise provided in this section.
(c) Designation of agent; response to notice or process
(1) Designation of agent
The head of each agency subject to this section shall—
(A) designate an agent or agents to receive orders and accept service of process in matters relating to child support or alimony; and
(2) Response to notice or process
If an agent designated pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection receives notice pursuant to State procedures in effect pursuant to subsection (a)(1) or (b) ofsection 666 of this title, or is effectively served with any order, process, or interrogatory, with respect to an individual’s child support or alimony payment obligations, the agent shall—
(A) as soon as possible (but not later than 15 days) thereafter, send written notice of the notice or service (together with a copy of the notice or service) to the individual at the duty station or last-known home address of the individual;
(B) within 30 days (or such longer period as may be prescribed by applicable State law) after receipt of a notice pursuant to such State procedures, comply with all applicable provisions of section 666 of this title; and
(d) Priority of claims
If a governmental entity specified in subsection (a) of this section receives notice or is served with process, as provided in this section, concerning amounts owed by an individual to more than 1 person—
(1) support collection under section 666 (b) of this title must be given priority over any other process, as provided in section 666 (b)(7) of this title;
(2) allocation of moneys due or payable to an individual among claimants under section 666 (b) of this title shall be governed by section 666 (b) of this title and the regulations prescribed under such section; and
(3) such moneys as remain after compliance with paragraphs (1) and (2) shall be available to satisfy any other such processes on a first-come, first-served basis, with any such process being satisfied out of such moneys as remain after the satisfaction of all such processes which have been previously served.
(e) No requirement to vary pay cycles
A governmental entity that is affected by legal process served for the enforcement of an individual’s child support or alimony payment obligations shall not be required to vary its normal pay and disbursement cycle in order to comply with the legal process.
(f) Relief from liability
(1) Neither the United States, nor the government of the District of Columbia, nor any disbursing officer shall be liable with respect to any payment made from moneys due or payable from the United States to any individual pursuant to legal process regular on its face, if the payment is made in accordance with this section and the regulations issued to carry out this section.
(2) No Federal employee whose duties include taking actions necessary to comply with the requirements of subsection (a) of this section with regard to any individual shall be subject under any law to any disciplinary action or civil or criminal liability or penalty for, or on account of, any disclosure of information made by the employee in connection with the carrying out of such actions.
Authority to promulgate regulations for the implementation of this section shall, insofar as this section applies to moneys due from (or payable by)—
(1) the United States (other than the legislative or judicial branches of the Federal Government) or the government of the District of Columbia, be vested in the President (or the designee of the President);
(2) the legislative branch of the Federal Government, be vested jointly in the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (or their designees),  and
(h) Moneys subject to process
(1) In general
Subject to paragraph (2), moneys payable to an individual which are considered to be based upon remuneration for employment, for purposes of this section—
(A) consist of—
(i) compensation payable for personal services of the individual, whether the compensation is denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, pay, allowances, or otherwise (including severance pay, sick pay, and incentive pay);
(ii) periodic benefits (including a periodic benefit as defined in section 428 (h)(3) of this title) or other payments—
(II) under any other system or fund established by the United States which provides for the payment of pensions, retirement or retired pay, annuities, dependents’ or survivors’ benefits, or similar amounts payable on account of personal services performed by the individual or any other individual;
(V) by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as compensation for a service-connected disability paid by the Secretary to a former member of the Armed Forces who is in receipt of retired or retainer pay if the former member has waived a portion of the retired or retainer pay in order to receive such compensation;
(iv) benefits paid or payable under the Railroad Retirement System,  and
(B) do not include any payment—
(i) by way of reimbursement or otherwise, to defray expenses incurred by the individual in carrying out duties associated with the employment of the individual;
(ii) as allowances for members of the uniformed services payable pursuant to chapter 7 of title 37, as prescribed by the Secretaries concerned (defined by section 101 (5) of title 37) as necessary for the efficient performance of duty; or
(2) Certain amounts excluded
In determining the amount of any moneys due from, or payable by, the United States to any individual, there shall be excluded amounts which—
(B) are required by law to be, and are, deducted from the remuneration or other payment involved, including Federal employment taxes, and fines and forfeitures ordered by court-martial;
(C) are properly withheld for Federal, State, or local income tax purposes, if the withholding of the amounts is authorized or required by law and if amounts withheld are not greater than would be the case if the individual claimed all dependents to which he was entitled (the withholding of additional amounts pursuant to section 3402(i) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 may be permitted only when the individual presents evidence of a tax obligation which supports the additional withholding);
(E) are deducted as normal retirement contributions (not including amounts deducted for supplementary coverage); or
For purposes of this section—
(1) United States
The term “United States” includes any department, agency, or instrumentality of the legislative, judicial, or executive branch of the Federal Government, the United States Postal Service, the Postal Regulatory Commission, any Federal corporation created by an Act of Congress that is wholly owned by the Federal Government, and the governments of the territories and possessions of the United States.
(2) Child support
The term “child support”, when used in reference to the legal obligations of an individual to provide such support, means amounts required to be paid under a judgment, decree, or order, whether temporary, final, or subject to modification, issued by a court or an administrative agency of competent jurisdiction, for the support and maintenance of a child, including a child who has attained the age of majority under the law of the issuing State, or a child and the parent with whom the child is living, which provides for monetary support, health care, arrearages or reimbursement, and which may include other related costs and fees, interest and penalties, income withholding, attorney’s fees, and other relief.
(A) In general
The term “alimony”, when used in reference to the legal obligations of an individual to provide the same, means periodic payments of funds for the support and maintenance of the spouse (or former spouse) of the individual, and (subject to and in accordance with State law) includes separate maintenance, alimony pendente lite, maintenance, and spousal support, and includes attorney’s fees, interest, and court costs when and to the extent that the same are expressly made recoverable as such pursuant to a decree, order, or judgment issued in accordance with applicable State law by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Such term does not include—
(4) Private person
The term “private person” means a person who does not have sovereign or other special immunity or privilege which causes the person not to be subject to legal process.
(5) Legal process
The term “legal process” means any writ, order, summons, or other similar process in the nature of garnishment—
(A) which is issued by—
(i) a court or an administrative agency of competent jurisdiction in any State, territory, or possession of the United States;
(ii) a court or an administrative agency of competent jurisdiction in any foreign country with which the United States has entered into an agreement which requires the United States to honor the process; or
(B) which is directed to, and the purpose of which is to compel, a governmental entity which holds moneys which are otherwise payable to an individual to make a payment from the moneys to another party in order to satisfy a legal obligation of the individual to provide child support or make alimony payments.
 So in original. The comma probably should be a semicolon.
Source(Aug. 14, 1935, ch. 531, title IV, § 459, as added Pub. L. 93–647, § 101(a),Jan. 4, 1975, 88 Stat. 2357; amended Pub. L. 95–30, title V, § 501(a), (b),May 23, 1977, 91 Stat. 157; Pub. L. 98–21, title III, § 335(b)(1),Apr. 20, 1983, 97 Stat. 130; Pub. L. 104–193, title III, § 362(a),Aug. 22, 1996, 110 Stat. 2242; Pub. L. 105–33, title V, § 5542(a), (b),Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 631; Pub. L. 106–169, title II, § 251(b)(3),Dec. 14, 1999, 113 Stat. 1855; Pub. L. 109–435, title VI, § 604(f),Dec. 20, 2006, 120 Stat. 3242.)
References in Text
The Internal Revenue Code of 1986, referred to in subsec. (h)(2)(C), is classified generally to Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.
2006—Subsec. (i)(1). Pub. L. 109–435substituted “Postal Regulatory Commission” for “Postal Rate Commission”.
1999—Subsec. (h)(1)(A)(v). Pub. L. 106–169added cl. (v).
1997—Subsec. (c)(2)(C). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(a), substituted “withhold available sums in response to the order or process, or answer the interrogatory” for “respond to the order, process, or interrogatory”.
Subsec. (h)(1). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(b)(1), struck out “paid or” after “moneys” in introductory provisions.
Subsec. (h)(1)(A)(i). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(b)(1), struck out “paid or” before “payable”.
Subsec. (h)(1)(A)(iii). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(b)(2)(B)(i), inserted “or payable” after “paid”.
Subsec. (h)(1)(A)(iv). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(b)(2)(A), (B)(ii), (C), added cl. (iv).
Subsec. (h)(1)(B)(iii). Pub. L. 105–33, § 5542(b)(3), added cl. (iii).
1996—Pub. L. 104–193amended section catchline and text generally. Prior to amendment, text consisted of subsecs. (a) to (f) relating to use of legal process to collect money payable to an individual as remuneration for employment by the United States or the District of Columbia for purpose of enforcing individual’s legal obligation to provide child support or make alimony payments.
1977—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 95–30, § 501(a), (b)(1), designated existing provisions as subsec. (a) and substituted “or the District of Columbia (including any agency, subdivision, or instrumentality thereof)” for “(including any agency or instrumentality thereof and any wholly owned Federal Corporation)” and “as if the United States or the District of Columbia were a private person” for “as if the United States were a private person”.
Subsecs. (b) to (f). Pub. L. 95–30, § 501(b)(2), added subsecs. (b) to (f).
Effective Date of 1997 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 105–33effective as if included in the enactment of title III of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Pub. L. 104–193, see section 5557 ofPub. L. 105–33, set out as a note under section 608 of this title.
Effective Date of 1996 Amendment
Pub. L. 104–193, title III, § 362(d),Aug. 22, 1996, 110 Stat. 2247, provided that: “The amendments made by this section [amending this section, section 5520a of Title 5, Government Organization and Employees, and section 1408 of Title 10, Armed Forces, and repealing sections 661 and 662 of this title] shall become effective 6 months after the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 22, 1996].”
For provisions relating to effective date of title III of Pub. L. 104–193, see section 395(a)–(c) of Pub. L. 104–193, set out as a note under section 654 of this title.
Executive Order No. 11881
Ex. Ord. No. 11881, Oct. 3, 1975, 40 F.R. 46291, which related to the delegation of authority to issue regulations for the implementation of the provisions of this section, was revoked by Ex. Ord. No. 12105, Dec. 19, 1978, 43 F.R. 59465, set out as a note below.
Ex. Ord. No. 12105. Delegation of Authority To Promulgate Regulations
Ex. Ord. No. 12105, Dec. 19, 1978, 43 F.R. 59465, as amended by Ex. Ord. No. 12107, Dec. 28, 1978, 44 F.R. 1055, provided:
By virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 461(a)(1) of the Social Security Act, as added by Section 501(c) of the Tax Reduction and Simplification Act of 1977 (Public Law 95–30, 91 Stat. 158, 42 U.S.C. 661 (a)(1)), andSection 301 of Title 3 of the United States Code, and as President of the United States of America, in order to provide for the enforcement of legal obligations to provide child support or make alimony payments incurred by employees of the Executive branch, it is hereby ordered as follows:
1–1. Delegation of Authority
1–101. The Office of Personnel Management, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense with respect to members of the armed forces, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to employees of the Government thereof, is authorized to promulgate regulations for the uniform implementation of Section 459 of the Social Security Act, as amended (42 U.S.C. 659), hereinafter referred to as the Act.
1–102. The regulations promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management pursuant to this Order shall:
(a) Be applicable to the Executive branch of the Government as defined in Section 461(a)(1) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 661 (a)(1)).
(b) Require the appropriate officials of the Executive branch of the Government to take the actions prescribed by Sections 461(b)(1), 461(b)(3)(A) and 461(c) of the Act (42 U.S.C. 661 (b)(1), 661 (b)(3)(A) and 661 (c)).
(c) Require the appropriate officials of the Executive branch of the Government to issue such rules, regulations and directives as are necessary to implement the regulations of the Office of Personnel Management.
1–201. Executive Order No. 11881 of October 3, 1975 is revoked.
1–202. All regulations, directives, or actions taken by the Office of Personnel Management pursuant to Executive Order No. 11881 of October 3, 1975 shall remain in effect until modified, superseded or revoked by the Office of Personnel Management pursuant to this Order.Jimmy Carter.
Ex. Ord. No. 12953. Actions Required of all Executive Agencies To Facilitate Payment of Child Support
Children need and deserve the emotional and financial support of both their parents.
The Federal Government requires States and, through them, public and private employers to take actions necessary to ensure that monies in payment of child support obligations are withheld and transferred to the child’s caretaker in an efficient and expeditious manner.
The Federal Government, through its civilian employees and Uniformed Services members, is the Nation’s largest single employer and as such should set an example of leadership and encouragement in ensuring that all children are properly supported.
NOW, THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 301 of title 3, United States Code, it is hereby ordered as follows:PART I—PURPOSE
Section 101. This executive order: (a) Establishes the executive branch of the Federal Government, through its civilian employees and Uniformed Services members, as a model employer in promoting and facilitating the establishment and enforcement of child support.
(b) Requires all Federal agencies, including the Uniformed Services, to cooperate fully in efforts to establish paternity and child support orders and to enforce the collection of child and medical support in all situations where such actions may be required.
(c) Requires each Federal agency, including the Uniformed Services, to provide information to its employees and members about actions that they should take and services that are available to ensure that their children are provided the support to which they are legally entitled.PART 2—DEFINITIONS
For purposes of this order:
Sec. 201. “Federal agency” means any authority as defined at 5 U.S.C. 105, including the Uniformed Services, as defined in section 202 of this order.
Sec. 202. “Uniformed Services” means the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Public Health Service.
Sec. 203. “Child support enforcement” means any administrative or judicial action by a court or administrative entity of a State necessary to establish paternity or establish a child support order, including a medical support order, and any actions necessary to enforce a child support or medical support order. Child support actions may be brought under the civil or criminal laws of a State and are not limited to actions brought on behalf of the State or individual by State agencies providing services under title IV-D of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 651et seq.
Sec. 204. “State” means any of the fifty States, the District of Columbia, the territories, the possessions, and the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and of the Mariana Islands.PART 3—IMMEDIATE ACTIONS TO ENSURE CHILDREN ARE SUPPORTED BY THEIR PARENTS
Sec. 301. Wage Withholding. (a) Within 60 days from the date of this order, every Federal agency shall review its procedures for wage withholding under 42 U.S.C. 659 and implementing regulations to ensure that it is in full compliance with the requirements of that section, and shall endeavor, to the extent feasible, to process wage withholding actions consistent with the requirements of 42 U.S.C. 666 (b).
(b) Beginning no later than July 1, 1995, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) shall publish annually in the Federal Register the list of agents (and their addresses) designated to receive service of withholding notices for Federal employees.
Sec. 302. Service of Legal Process. Every Federal agency shall assist in the service of legal process in civil actions pursuant to orders of courts of States to establish paternity and establish or enforce a support obligation by making Federal employees and members of the Uniformed Services stationed outside the United States available for the service of process. Each agency shall designate an official who shall be responsible for facilitating a Federal employee’s or member’s availability for service of process, regardless of the location of the employee’s workplace or member’s duty station. The OPM shall publish a list of these officials annually in the Federal Register, beginning no later than July 1, 1995.
Sec. 303. Federal Parent Locator. Every Federal agency shall cooperate with the Federal Parent Locator Service, established under 42 U.S.C. 653, by providing complete, timely and accurate information that will assist in locating noncustodial parents and their employers.
Sec. 304. Crossmatch for Delinquent Obligors. (a) The master file of delinquent obligors that each State child support enforcement agency submits to the Internal Revenue Service for Federal income tax refund offset purposes shall be matched at least annually with the payroll or personnel files of Federal agencies in order to determine if there are any Federal employees with child support delinquencies. The list of matches shall be forwarded to the appropriate State child support enforcement agency to determine, in each instance, whether wage withholding or other enforcement actions should be commenced. All matches will be performed in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a (o)–(u).
(b) All Federal agencies shall inform current and prospective employees that crossmatches are routinely made between Federal personnel records and State records on individuals who owe child support, and inform employees how to initiate voluntary wage withholding requests.
Sec. 305. Availability of Service. All Federal agencies shall advise current and prospective employees of services authorized under title IV-D of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C. 651 et seq.] that are available through the States. At a minimum, information shall be provided annually to current employees through the Employee Assistance Program, or similar programs, and to new employees during routine orientation.
Sec. 306. Report on Actions Taken. Within 90 days of the date of this order, all Federal agencies shall report to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the actions they have taken to comply with this order and any statutory, regulatory, and administrative barriers that hinder them from complying with the requirements of part 3 of this order.PART 4—ADDITIONAL ACTIONS
Sec. 401. Additional Review for the Uniformed Services. (a) In addition to the requirements outlined above, the Secretary of the Department of Defense (DOD) will chair a task force, with participation by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Transportation, that shall conduct a full review of current policies and practices within the Uniformed Services to ensure that children of Uniformed Services personnel are provided financial and medical support in the same manner and within the same time frames as is mandated for all other children due such support. This review shall include, but not be limited to, issues related to withholding non-custodial parents’ wages, service of legal process, activities to locate parents and their income and assets, release time to attend civil paternity and support proceedings, and health insurance coverage under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS). All relevant existing statutes, including the Soldiers[’] and Sailors[’] Civil Relief Act of 1940 [now Servicemembers Civil Relief Act] [50 App. U.S.C. 501 et seq.], the Uniformed Services Former Spouses[’] Protection Act [see Short Title of 1982 Amendment note set out under section 1401 of Title 10, Armed Forces], and the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 [Pub. L. 97–248, see Tables for classification], shall be reviewed and appropriate legislative modifications shall be identified.
(b) Within 180 days of the date of this order, DOD shall submit to OMB a report based on this review. The report shall recommend additional policy, regulatory and legislative changes that would improve and enhance the Federal Government’s commitment to ensuring parental support for all children.
Sec. 402. Additional Federal Agency Actions. (a) OPM and HHS shall jointly study and prepare recommendations concerning additional administrative, regulatory, and legislative improvements in the policies and procedures of Federal agencies affecting child support enforcement. Other agencies shall be included in the development of recommendations for specific items as appropriate. The recommendations shall address, among other things:
(i) any changes that would be needed to ensure that Federal employees comply with child support orders that require them to provide health insurance coverage for their children;
(ii) changes needed to ensure that more accurate and up-to-date data about civilian and uniformed personnel who are being sought in conjunction with State paternity or child support actions can be obtained from Federal agencies and their payroll and personnel records, to improve efforts to locate noncustodial parents and their income and assets;
(iii) changes needed for selecting Federal agencies to test and evaluate new approaches to the establishment and enforcement of child support obligations;
(iv) proposals to improve service of process for civilian employees and members of the Uniformed Services stationed outside the United States, including the possibility of serving process by certified mail in establishment and enforcement cases or of designating an agent for service of process that would have the same effect and bind employees to the same extent as actual service upon the employees;
(v) strategies to facilitate compliance with Federal and State child support requirements by quasi-governmental agencies, advisory groups, and commissions; and
(vi) analysis of whether compliance with support orders should be a factor used in defining suitability for Federal employment.
(b) The recommendations are due within 180 days of the date of this order. The recommendations are to be submitted in writing to the Office of Management and Budget.
Sec. 501. Internal Management. This order is intended only to improve the internal management of the executive branch with regard to child support enforcement and shall not be interpreted to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States, its officers, or any other person.
Sec. 502. Sovereignty of the United States Government. This order is intended only to provide that the Federal Government has elected to require Federal agencies to adhere to the same standards as are applicable to all other employers in the Nation and shall not be interpreted as subjecting the Federal Government to any State law or requirement. This order should not be construed as a waiver of the sovereign immunity of the United States Government or of any existing statutory or regulatory provisions, including 42 U.S.C. 659, 662, and 665; 5 CFR Part 581; 42 CFR Part 21, Subpart C; 32 CFR Part 54; and 32 CFR Part 81.
Sec. 503. Defense and Security.
This order is not intended to require any action that would compromise the defense or national security interest of the United States.William J. Clinton.