Child support a major reason for garnished wages

Some Texas noncustodial parents may have their wages garnished if they fall behind on child support. About 7 percent of all American workers face wage garnishment, and the highest percentage are for nonpayment of child support. These and other findings were in a study released by the ADP Research Institute on Sept. 27.

The researchers examined anonymous payroll data on 12 million workers to reach its conclusions. It looked at garnishments for several different categories in addition to child support such as student loans and taxes. Of people whose wages were garnished, over 70 percent were men, and most of their garnishments were for falling behind on child support payments. Women tended to have their wages garnished for other types of debt.

The study found that people in the Midwest and the South were more likely to have wage garnishments than people in other parts of the country. In fact, over 25 percent of men in the Midwest working for large manufacturing companies between the ages of 35 and 55 had their wages garnished. Their average annual income was $44,000. Larger employers had a proportionately larger number of employees with garnished wages than smaller employers, but smaller employers had more people whose wages were garnished because of child support. Wage garnishments were higher in goods production than in the service sector.

Wage garnishments for child support generally only occur after other efforts to collect child support from a parent have failed. If support goes unpaid, a state or local child support enforcement agency may take steps to collect the support. A parent who cannot keep up child support payments because of changed circumstances may want to have legal assistance when seeking a modification of the amount.

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