Earnings Assignments in California and When They Are Used
The decision to file for divorce is never an easy one. However, once the final divorce decree is signed by the judge, the most challenging aspects of the divorce process are usually behind you. At this point, the focus often shifts to ensuring that spousal support payments are made on time. In California, one essential tool for enforcing spousal support is the earnings assignment order. In this comprehensive guide, we will take a closer look at earnings assignments and when they are used.
What is an Earnings Assignment in California?
An earnings assignment refers to income withheld by an employer to pay spousal support that an employee owes. When you or your ex-spouse owes spousal support, a California judge will often issue an earnings assignment order. This order takes effect after a Proof of Service form has been filed.
To initiate the process, this form must be served to your ex-spouse’s employer, who will then be required to withhold a certain amount from their pay for spousal support. If you are the support recipient, it is essential to ensure that you or your lawyer correctly and accurately complete the earnings assignment order form. Once done correctly, you can expect the order to be verified in less than two weeks.
How is Earnings Assignment Money Typically Withheld and Received?
The process of earnings assignment withholding and receipt is relatively straightforward. Once an ex-spouse’s employer receives the order, they have ten days to start deducting the necessary funds. These funds are then taken directly from the ex’s earnings and allocated to spousal support payments. The frequency of these payments may vary, with options ranging from monthly to quarterly, depending on the guidelines specified in the divorce decree.
Can I Choose to Receive Payments Directly from My Spouse Instead?
If your ex-spouse is employed, their employer will send spousal support payments to you once enough money is collected. However, if your ex-spouse works contract jobs or is self-employed, receiving direct payments might not be possible. In such situations, the judge is likely to order your ex-spouse to pay you directly.
Can I Choose to Make Payments Directly to My Spouse Instead of Having Money Withheld?
In the event that you are tasked with paying spousal support to your ex-spouse, you can request to make payments directly to them. This arrangement allows you to bypass the need for an earnings assignment. However, it’s important to note that your ex-spouse could still obtain an earnings assignment order. They might request the order to be put on hold “just in case.” In such a scenario, the order would only be enforced if you start missing payments.
What Can I Do If My Ex Isn’t Paying Spousal Support in California?
If your ex-spouse fails to pay the spousal support they owe, you can take action by requesting an earnings assignment order from the court. The following steps will guide you through the process:
- Fill out all required forms.
- Make copies of these forms.
- Collect signed forms from the judge.
- File the signed forms, if necessary.
- Send the earnings assignment order directly to your ex-spouse’s employer.
- Send the order to your ex-spouse.
- Fill out and file the Proof of Service document.
Nearly every judge files an earning assignment order when a divorce decree is made. This simplifies the process of obtaining spousal support in California. While it’s possible to draw up an agreement for your ex to send payments directly to you, an earnings assignment order simplifies and automates the process.
If you need help understanding the earnings assignment form and its implications, you can speak with your Hello Divorce account coordinator (if you are a paid member) or contact Hello Divorce for a free 15-minute call to explore options and next steps.
The earnings assignment order is a crucial tool in ensuring that spousal support payments are made promptly. Understanding its role and process can help both support payers and recipients navigate the post-divorce phase more smoothly. Whether you are receiving or paying spousal support, knowing your options and rights can make a significant difference in managing this aspect of your divorce settlement.
- Q: What is an earnings assignment in California? A: An earnings assignment refers to income withheld by an employer to pay spousal support the employee owes.
- Q: How is earnings assignment money typically withheld and received? A: Once an ex-spouse’s employer receives the order, they have ten days to begin deducting the necessary funds from the ex’s earnings.
- Q: Can I choose to receive payments directly from my spouse instead? A: If your ex-spouse is employed, their employer will send spousal support payments to you once enough money is collected.
- Q: Can I choose to make payments directly to my spouse instead of having money withheld? A: If you are tasked with paying spousal support, you can ask your ex to agree to receive payments directly from you.
- Q: What can I do if my ex isn’t paying spousal support in California? A: You can request an earnings assignment order from the court if your ex-spouse fails to pay the spousal support they owe.