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Child support and wage garnishments

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Child Support

Typically, parents who fail to pay their child support in California only face wage garnishment after falling behind significantly. While courts usually try to avoid initiating wage garnishment against a parent in arrears on their child support, there are cases in which it happens. Whether you receive or owe child support, it’s important to understand the relationship between wage garnishment and child support.

How much money they garnish?

In 1968, the US federal government instituted limits on wage garnishment in child support cases. Based on that law, employers can garnish up to 50% of an employee’s disposable earnings for past-due child support. That limit expands to 60% if the unpaying parent is not supporting a spouse or another child., and another 5% if the parent falls more than 12 weeks behind on his or her child support.

The wage garnishment process

The process of garnishing wages begins when an employer receives a letter from the state telling them that they must begin garnishing an employee’s wages. Upon receiving that letter, the employer must send a letter to the employee, notifying him or her about the upcoming garnishments. The employee has the right to appeal the ruling in a court of law after receiving the letter from the employer.

Changes to wage garnishment orders

Different jurisdictions set different rules regarding how to modify a wage garnishment order. However, some of the allowable reasons for changing a garnishment order remain the same across most jurisdictions. These reasons include:

  • A change to employment status
  • A change in the child’s custody status
  • A decrease in income
  • An increase in income for the custodial parent

Courts typically try numerous other forms of resolution before initiating wage garnishments. However, parents who pay child support and those who receive it need to educate themselves about how the process works in the most extreme cases of nonpayment.