Employers Work as Contractors to Avoid Child Support Garnishments

In Texas, it has become common for residents paying child support to work as contractors, especially in the construction or restaurant industries, or frequently change jobs to try to avoid child support garnishments. Employer misclassification of workers as independent contractors, instead of employees, has also been an issue.

According to data from the Texas Workforce Commission, around 35,000 workers in Texas were under the wrong employment classification between 2010 and 2012. Paying employees under the table or classifying them as independent contractors can allow employers to avoid payroll taxes and workers compensation because the employees hold responsibility for paying their own taxes. Under the law, the definition of “employee” includes anyone who has to work under the direction of a supervisor. An “independent contractor” is considered a person who is self-employed and has more discretion over projects.

Under Texas state law, the attorney general’s office can issue orders to collect back child support through wage garnishments. In the past, the office has not actively kept track of employee classifications because employers are supposed to follow wage garnishment orders in the same manner for all workers, regardless of job classification.

In Texas, child support orders are often tied to divorce proceedings, paternity cases or Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. Under Texas law, judges divide the noncustodial parents’ income by 12 to come up with an amount for child support, but they also take the number of children, the cost of health insurance coverage for the children and federal and Social Security taxes into account when calculating child support. A family law attorney may be able to help exes to reach child support agreements that are in the best interest of their children or to assist a client in obtaining a modified child support order if a parent’s employment status has changed.

Source: The Texas Tribune, “Ducking Child Support By Becoming A Contractor,” Julian Aguilar, April 2, 2015

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