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Child support garnishments for independent contractors

Texas residents are likely aware that paychecks can be garnished for unpaid child support, but they may not know that people sometimes try to get around these deductions by seeking a job that allows them to work as an independent contractor. Employers in Texas say that employees often quit when child support starts to be deducted from their paychecks, and many of these workers then seek out positions where they can avoid the garnishment by being paid off the books or classified as an independent contractor.

Garnishments for delinquent child support are ordered by the office of the Texas Attorney General, and the rules are supposed to apply to all workers. However, authorities find it difficult to collect delinquent child support from independent contractors. Matters are made even more challenging when employers classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees to avoid payroll taxes and workers' compensation requirements. Figures from the Texas Workforce Commission reveal that more than 35,000 workers were misclassified in the state between 2010 and 2012. This practice is said to cost the state's unemployment insurance fund over $2 million each year.

Authorities in Texas collected $3.8 billion in unpaid child support in 2014, and more than three quarters of that money was collected from employers. While a database contains 400,000 employers in Texas, many of them are slow to make the necessary notifications when an individual is taken on as an independent contractor. Efforts to address the problem include a proposed change in the law that would extend the definition of worker to include independent contractors.

A family law attorney will likely understand the frustration of custodial parents who are not receiving court ordered child support payments in a timely manner. Many parents rely on child support to make ends meet, and an attorney could initiate legal action to have liens attached to the bank accounts of noncustodial parents in situations where a paycheck garnishment is not possible.

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