Revision 09-4; Effective December 1, 2009
A garnishment or seizure is a withholding of an amount from earned or unearned income in order to satisfy a debt or legal obligation.
Amounts withheld from income as garnishment to satisfy a debt or legal obligation are countable income.
E-1410 Division of Marital Income and Property
Revision 16-4; Effective December 1, 2016
A division of income and property in a divorce settlement is not considered a garnishment or lien placed against income. When an individual is paying income to a former spouse, consider court documentation before determining the ownership and accessibility of the income. A legal review of the documentation may be necessary to determine ownership and accessibility of income and a pension plan for each of the former spouses. For verification, use one of the following sources:
- court records;
- records of the agency through which the payments are made;
- official documents in the individual's possession (e.g., legal documents) that establish the amount and frequency of the support; or
- report of contact with the source of the payment that includes the amount and frequency of the alimony or spousal support.
If none of the above sources are available, obtain an individual's sworn affidavit that explains why one of the sources above is not available (for example, the documentation does not exist, the court or agency will not release the information or the source refused to cooperate).
A court may issue an order called a domestic relations order that provides income such as spousal support which may also be called alimony (see E-3320 , Alimony and Support Payments), to the former spouse.
- If the court order indicates the applicant/recipient is paying spousal support payments or alimony to the former spouse, the payment is still considered countable unearned income to the applicant/recipient.
- If the former spouse is the applicant/recipient, the receipt of spousal support payments or alimony is also countable income to the former spouse.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a property settlement that assigns all or a portion of a retirement plan to the former spouse. An employer or retirement plan administrator may refuse to recognize a QDRO and separate the retirement plan payments to each individual. Consider the portion of the retirement plan payments as income to each individual as stipulated in the QDRO, regardless if the retirement plan administrator pays each individual their portion or only pays the retiree who then pays the former spouse.
Note: For individuals who are active or retired from the military, a marital division of property may be similar to a domestic relations order or a QDRO. A legal review of the documentation may be necessary to determine ownership and accessibility of income and a pension plan for each of the former spouses.
E-1420 Deeming and Court-Ordered Support Payments
If income of an ineligible spouse, parent or ineligible child is garnished to pay court-ordered or Title IV-D enforced support payments, do not consider the income used by these individuals to make support payments. Support payments are payments made under a court order or enforced in compliance with a state agreement under Title IV-D. Title IV-D child support payments are usually made directly to the state.