Using Wage Garnishment to Collect Child Support
After a divorce or separation, both parents have a continuing obligation to financially support their children, regardless of where the child resides and who has physical custody. Child support is critical to ensuring that a child’s basic needs are met. Unfortunately, there are situations in which a noncustodial parent fails to make regular or sufficient support payments. In these cases, the custodial parent can obtain a wage garnishment order to collect the support that is owed.
In North Carolina, a garnishment order — also known as an income withholding order — requires an employer to deduct a specified amount from an employee’s wages and to pay them to the state Child Support Service’s collection office. The order may cover child support currently due, arrears owed and related court costs and attorneys’ fees.
If you are the custodial parent, your lawyer can make a complaint or motion to the court to issue an income withholding order if the other parent has been delinquent or erratic in making child support payments. The complaint or motion must contain the following information:
- Whether a court order is in place imposing the child support obligations
- Whether the obligated parent has been delinquent or erratic in making payments
- The amount of child support currently overdue and the amount you are seeking
- The amount of the other parent’s monthly disposable income from each employer
- The name, location, and mailing address of the other parent’s employer(s) from whom withholding is sought
The complaint or motion must include a notice to the other parent that the withholding will apply to their current and subsequent employer and will continue until terminated. Both parents can agree to income withholding by accepting a consent order.
Under North Carolina law, wage garnishment is subject to the following limits for each pay period:
- Up to 40 percent of a parent’s disposable earnings can be withheld if there is only one garnishment order.
- Up to 45 percent of disposable earnings can be withheld if there is more than one garnishment order and the obligated parent is also supporting other dependent children or a spouse.
- Up to 50 percent of disposable earnings can be withheld if there is more than one garnishment order and the obligated parent is not supporting a second family.
Disposable earnings include any type of compensation received, such as wages, bonuses, commissions and lump-sum payments. Unemployment benefits can also be garnished, but only up to 25 percent.
Wage garnishment is the most effective way of enforcing a child support obligation. If you are faced with problems collecting the basic support your child is due, an experienced attorney can help you reach the best possible solution.
The Moore Law Office, PLLC offers experienced and knowledgeable counsel in a wide variety of family law matters, including child support cases. Call 828-333-4796 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at our Asheville office.