Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Apr 10, 2011

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Massachusetts wage garnishment generally begins when a noncustodial parent’s employer is served with a support order. Massachusetts courts and agencies issue child support collection orders after child custody proceedings have ended. An employer served with a support order is bound by law to enforce the wage garnishment on its employee. Most wages are remitted to the Massachusetts State Disbursement Unit (SDU). This article will further help explain the process of Massachusetts wage garnishment.

Massachusetts Child Support Collection

A support order in Massachusetts is defined as an order, decree, or judgment for the support of a child, including a child who has reached the age of majority, which is issued by a court or administrative agency with competent jurisdiction. A support order may provide monetary support, heath care coverage, arrearages, or reimbursement, as well as related court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Any order for Massachusetts child support collection should be followed until the issuing agency or court has terminated the order.

Who Withholds the Money

Generally, after being served, an employer is responsible for withholding money for a support order. Massachusetts defines an employer as the person who an individual is employed by and who performs services for, except when the person for whom the individual works does not have control of the payment issued to the employee. In this case, whoever is issuing the payment would be considered the employer. An employer can also include any branch of government, any person within the meaning of “employer” in Section 3401(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, as well as a “hiring hall” that is used by a labor organization described in Section 2(5) of the National Labor Relations Act, and any entity through which a labor organization provides insurance or benefits to its members.

When is Money Withheld

When an employer is served with an order for support, they should begin withholding wages immediately if a payday is occurring within three days after the order is served. Thereafter, payments should be made no more than three working days after each payday. If the order does not specify the amount to remit for each pay period, simply multiply the monthly amount due by twelve, and divide by the number of pay periods in a year. The employer should never accumulate monthly deductions and send them in as a single payment. Payment can be made to the agency by either check or Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). However, an employer with five or more employees subject to withholding orders, or that has a history of making late payments or bouncing checks, must use EFT. Massachusetts provides a web-based reporting method that will debit the company’s bank account, or the employer may use the Cash Concentration and Disbursement (CCD+) format or the Corporate Trade Exchange (CTX) format when remitting payment. For more information about EFT payments, contact the State Disbursement Unit:

Massachusetts Department of Revenue

Phone: (781) 917-0050

SDU Internet Payment Website

Employers remitting payment by check can combine their employees’ payments (as long as it is under five employees), but should include a list with the payment identifying each employee’s name, amount due, Social Security Number, case number, and the employee’s payday.

Out-of-State Orders

Massachusetts follows the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The UIFSA mandates that an employer honor any support order they receive from another state. When determining the amount to withhold for current support, arrears, and medical support, as well as the duration of the order and where to remit payment, the employer should follow the issuing state’s laws. When determining how to define disposable earnings, allowable administrative fees, how to report upon the employee’s termination, withholding limits, allocation of orders, as well as when to begin and remit withholding, the employer should follow the laws of the employee’s work state.