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When child support debt leads to wage garnishments

Around 7 percent of all workers have their wages garnished for debts. These may include consumer debt, child support and student loans. California workers who have their wages garnished might be more likely to be men. More than 70 percent of workers nationwide whose wages are garnished are men, and in most cases, the reason is because those men have fallen behind on child support. These and other findings were part of a study released on Sept. 27 by the ADP Research Institute.

Wages are generally garnished pursuant to a court order, and the garnishment usually lasts until the debt is paid in full. The study found that people in the South and Midwest were more likely to have their wages garnished. Among men in the Midwest who worked in large manufacturing and were in the 35-to-55 age group, one-quarter had been the target of a garnishment. Their average annual salary was $44,000.

The study found that goods-producing companies were more likely than companies in the service sector to have employees whose wages were garnished. It also found that while larger companies tended to have a higher wage garnishment rate, smaller companies tended to have more people whose wages were garnished for child support instead of other debts.

When child support is ordered, it is generally based on income and a few other considerations. The court does recognize that a non-custodial parent's financial situation may change and make it impossible to continue paying that amount. However, if this happens, the solution is not for the parent to simply reduce how much is paid or to stop paying altogether. The parent needs to go back through the court system to request a child support modification. An attorney can often be of assistance in this regard.

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