Bank Levy and License Suspension
The mandate of DCSS is to ensure that child support payments are made in a consistent and timely manner. This means payment of the ordered support in full each month. If an account builds up unpaid back support automated enforcement actions can happen. Two of these possible actions are Bank Account Levies and Suspension of state-issued Drivers and Occupational Licenses.
Making timely child support payments not only helps your children, it also helps you avoid having your driver, professional, or other license, suspended and helps you avoid having money removed from your bank account without your knowledge.
Bank Levies -if unpaid support is owed a levy can be issued to any bank that reflects an account tied to the Social Security Number of the parent paying support. This includes accounts where the parent has access to the account only for cashing checks and business accounts.
License Suspension, Release and Revocation are enforcement measures taken by DCSS whenever the current support and arrears due on a case are not being met each month.
License Suspension -
Is this Legal?
The use of bank levies as an enforcement action is regulated by California Revenue & Tax Code § 19271. DCSS is required by law to issue bank levies when back support is owed and a bank account is located. The License Suspension and Revocation Process is regulated by California Family Code Section 17520.
- There are two types of account levies. Compliant and Non-Compliant - A Compliant levy is issued when a person is making payments, but still owes back support equal to two months of current support. Any amount over $3500 can be attached from the bank account to pay the overdue support. Non-Compliant levies are issued in cases where a balance is owed and no income withholding payments are being made. All funds in the account will be attached and sent to pay the overdue support.
- DCSS interfaces with systems that affect a variety of licenses; Drivers' Licenses, Business Licenses, State-issued licenses like, Contractor, Fishing, Hunting, Physician, Teacher, Attorney, Cosmetology, Real Estate Agent, Broker, and Appraiser, and others...
How often can this happen?
These processes can happen automatically or be initiated by a Child Support Worker as needed.
- As long as back support is owed a bank levy can be automatically issued once every 90 days. If a Child Support Worker has reason to believe funds may be available in the account sooner than 90 days, a levy can be issued to the bank outside of the automatic process.
- The license issuing agency will provide you with a 150-day Notice of Intent to Suspend with an effective date of the suspension. This notice may be provided in person when applying for the license or mailed to you if you are already licensed. If it is mailed, it will go to the address on file with the licensing agency. If you have moved and not updated your address with the agency, you may not receive the notice. The licensing agency is only required to send the notice one time; it is not required to ensure you receive the notice.. The 150 days allows you time to contact your child support case manager and attempt to comply with the necessary payments in order to secure a license release before the suspension goes into effect.If you are unable to make payments, or decide to dispute the payment requirements, your request for a license release will be denied. The denial notice will contain information about how to contest the action with the court. If your license is released and you again do not make sufficient monthly payments toward you account, the licensing agency will give you up to 30 days to obtain a release from the child support office and then revoke your license with no further notice to you.
What about fees?
Both actions result in fees to the person paying support.
- The fees charged by the bank for processing the levy and any resulting overdraft fees are charged at the discretion of the bank. DCSS cannot tell your bank to return those fees and cannot pay those fees for you. Different banks charge different fees. You may want to shop around to locate a bank with lower overdraft and levy processing fees.
- DMV charges a release processing fee each time the drivers license or occupational license is released. If the license is regulated by Department of Consumer Affairs or other state licensing board, contact the agency regarding applicable fees.
What can I do to Stop This?
Bank Levies and License Suspension/Revocation can be avoided through the following steps:
- You must be making monthly payments. If you are making regular monthly payments on overdue back support, DCSS may be able to withdraw you from the Bank Levy Collection Program. Once any back support owed is paid in full your case no longer qualifies for Bank Levy Collections. The same applies to license suspension. Any month you make the full court ordered support payment you are not submitted for license suspension. This will not correct any previous submissions. To have a license released you MUST talk with a child support worker about a release.
- For Bank Levies; you will be required to provide three months of bank statements for your case manager to review. You may be expected to explain any deposits that do not match our understanding of your financial situation. You may also be required to pay a higher amount each month toward your account. DCSS can only negotiate to withdraw you from the Bank Levy Collection Program if we are able to demonstrate increased collections in another way. For example, your case worker may suggest that you pay the amount that would be collected in bank fees toward your account balance each month. If you agree, your case could be withdrawn from bank levy submissions. If you are not able to increase your monthly payments, you may still be able to negotiate a withdrawal from the Bank Levy Collection Program after discussion withy your case manager.
- For License Suspension; depending on how long it has been since regular payments were made, there will probably be an expectation that 3-4 months of the current support or court-ordered arrears installment will be met before the license is released. This amount is negotiable; it may be higher, it may be lower, and it can be paid either in a lump sum or over consecutive months. If you cannot make payments, your caseworker may negotiate other terms for license release. If you are unwilling to make payments, your request will be denied and you can file a court hearing regarding the denial.