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Child Support Law

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Can Child Support Payments Be Automatically Deducted From a Parent's Paycheck?

If you find it difficult to get the child support payments you need from the other parent, you might consider having the other parent’s employer deduct the payments from their paycheck through wage garnishment, also called automatic wage withholding. Taking this step can ensure that you and your child receive the consistent, timely full payments to which you are entitled.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work?

Federal and state law requires, in most circumstances, that a parent’s child support obligation be automatically deducted from his or her paycheck through a garnishment or income withholding order.

In most cases, you can have your child support payments automatically deducted from the other parent’s paycheck. A court can issue the garnishment or income withholding order to pay child support.

Usually, a child support agency can also issue an order to deduct support payments from the noncustodial parent’s paycheck. If you know where they work, you can ask the court or child support agency to send a wage garnishment order to the employer to withhold child support payments from their paycheck.

What If the Parent Does Not Want Wage Garnishment?

The employer is legally obligated to follow the garnishment order for child support. Even if the garnishment order is from another state, under federal law, the employer is required to follow the order. The employer can be held liable for the child support payments, damages, and fines if they do not properly deduct and send in the payments according to the garnishment order.

However, the other parent can schedule a court hearing to dispute the wage order. You can object in situations such as the amount you owe is incorrect, you won’t have enough to live on, or if you had custody of the child during the time the support amount took place.

Wage Garnishment Limitations

There are some limitations to the amount of money you can garnish from the parent’s paycheck. Under federal law, up to 50% of a parent’s disposable income can be garnished for child support and up to 60% if you are only supporting one child.

For example, if a parent is only working 20 hours per week at minimum wage, and is ordered to pay $150.00 per week in child support, the employer cannot legally deduct your entire child support payment. In this situation, a garnishment order would not be completely effective.

Also, in some cases, you can’t deduct a parent’s child support obligation from their paycheck. For example, if the other parent is self-employed, they can get a court order preventing the child support payments from being deducted.

Seizing Property

If the other parent does not have wages to garnish or not enough wages to garnish, the custodial parent may be able to seize other types of property for payment. Some examples include:

  • Cars
  • Boats
  • Houses
  • Rents payable
  • Motorcycles

Other Garnishment Orders

Finally, it is important to know that a child support order takes precedence over other garnishment orders. If a parent has been sued for an unpaid credit card bill, and the credit card company wants to garnish the parent’s wages for the money owed, their garnishment order will come second in line to your child support order. In other words, your child support will be paid first, before any other garnishment orders.

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