42 U.S.C. 659 - Consent by United States to income withholding, garnishment, and similar proceedings for enforcement of child support and alimony obligations

Cite as42 U.S.C. 659

(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) of section 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) of section 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) 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

(B) annually publish in the Federal Register the designation of the agent or agents, identified by title or position, mailing address, and telephone number.

(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) of section 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

(C) within 30 days (or such longer period as may be prescribed by applicable State law) after effective service of any other such order, process, or interrogatory, withhold available sums in response to the order or process, or answer the interrogatory.

(d) Priority of claims

If a governmental entity specified in subsection (a) 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) 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.

(g) Regulations

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),1 and

(3) the judicial branch of the Federal Government, be vested in the Chief Justice of the United States (or the designee of the Chief Justice).

(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-

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