Receiving a levy on your bank account can be a jarring experience, especially if you are already spread thin financially.
Nothing is worse than budgeting out how you will pay all your bills, barely having enough money to get by, and then receiving a notice from your bank that your account has been frozen.
A levy is a legal order that allows a creditor, in this case, a state child support enforcement agency, to seize funds from your bank account to pay off outstanding debts.
This article will discuss what you should do if your bank account is levied for back-due child support.
Understanding Bank Account Levies for Back Due Child Support
When a parent falls behind on child support payments, the state can take legal action to collect the debt. One of the most common ways they do this is by issuing a bank account levy, lien, or garnishment.
With a levy, the state can freeze your account and legally take money from your bank account to pay off the outstanding child support debt.
Here’s what you need to know about bank account levies for back-due child support:
How Bank Account Levies Work
When a state agency issues a bank account levy, your bank account is frozen, and the bank holds the funds in it.
Under the law, the bank must freeze the account. The bank will then notify the state of how much money is in your account. The state will be looking to see if the account has enough money to pay off the back-due child support.
The bank and the state will also be required to notify you of the levy. The notice will tell you how much money the state is wanting to take out of the account and how to contest the levy if you believe it was issued incorrectly. DO NOT IGNORE THIS NOTICE.
What Happens if You Ignore a Child Support Bank Levy Notice?
I have had several clients whose bank accounts were frozen by the Department of Child Support Enforcement for not paying child support.
Before levying my clients’ bank accounts, Child Support Enforcement sent them a Notice of Child Support Delinquency. When my clients ignore this notice, they always end up in financial trouble.
Inevitably, they will have written some checks before the levy was placed on the account, but the checks bounce because of the levy. When this happens, my clients cannot pay their rent and other bills because they cannot access the money in their accounts.
Steps to Take if Your Bank Account is Levied
If your bank account has been levied or garnished for back-due child support, it’s important to take immediate action to address the situation. Here are some steps you can take:
1. Contact the Child Support Agency
The first thing you should do is contact the child support agency that issued the order to garnish your account. They can provide information on the amount owed, the reason for the garnishment, and any options you may have to resolve the issue.
2. Review the Child Support Order
Review the court order to ensure that the garnishment is valid and that the amount is accurate. If there are any errors or discrepancies, you may be able to challenge the order in court.
3. Seek Legal Advice From a Family Law Attorney
Consider seeking legal advice from an attorney specializing in family law or debt collection. They can guide you on your rights and options and help you determine the best course of action.
4. Make a Payment Plan
If you owe back-due child support, you can negotiate a payment plan with the child support agency. I always encourage my clients to do this first.
Your child support obligation is not going to go away. Call the agency and explain your financial situation. In my experience, the state will work with you to develop a payment plan that will work for you.
By negotiating and working out a plan, you can avoid future garnishments and keep your child support obligation current.
5. Protect Your Exempt Income
Certain types of income are exempt from garnishments, such as Social Security benefits, disability benefits, and retirement benefits. Make sure to inform the child support agency if any of your income is exempt, and take steps to protect your exempt income from being garnished.
6. Monitor Your Account
Keep a close eye on your bank account to ensure that the garnishment is executed correctly and that the correct amount is withheld.
Contact your bank and the child support agency immediately if you notice any errors or unauthorized withdrawals.
By taking these steps, you can address a bank account levy or garnishment for back-due child support and work to resolve the issue promptly and effectively.
How to Prevent Bank Account Levies
Prevention is the best way to avoid a bank account levy for back-due child support. Here are some steps you can take to prevent levies from happening:
- Pay Child Support on Time: The best way to prevent a bank account levy is to pay child support on time. Contact the state agency to ask for assistance if you need help making payments.
- Negotiate a Payment Plan: If you cannot pay the entire amount of back due child support at once, negotiate a payment plan with the state agency. This will prevent a levy from being issued and allow you to repay the debt over time.
- Keep Accurate Records: Keep accurate records of your child support payments and any communication with the state agency. This will help you contest any levies that may be issued in error.
Q: Can I contest a bank account levy for back-due child support?
A: Yes, you can contest a bank account levy if you believe it was issued in error. You should contact the state agency immediately and provide evidence or documentation proving the levy is incorrect. An attorney can also help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights.
Q: How long does a bank account levy last?
A: A bank account levy can last until the debt is paid in full or until the state agency releases the levy. If you cannot pay the debt in full, you can negotiate a payment plan with the state agency to release the levy.
Q: Can I still use my bank account after a levy is issued?
A: No, your bank account will be frozen, and you won’t be able to access the funds until the levy is released. It would be best if you considered opening a new account to prevent future levies.
If your bank account is levied for back due child support, it’s essential to take immediate action to protect your finances and resolve the issue.
Review the notice carefully, contact the state agency, open a new account, and seek legal help if necessary.