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When wage garnishments occur to collect child support

Some Texas parents who fall behind on child support might have their wages garnished. The ADP Research Institute released a study on Sept. 27 that looked at wage garnishments for child support, student loans, taxes and other reasons. It found that 7 percent of workers had wage garnishments and that 71 percent of the workers with garnished wages were men. The highest number of wage garnishments were for child support, and for men, child support was largely the reason wages were garnished.

The study identified goods-producing companies as being more likely than companies in the service sector to have employees' wages garnished. These companies are more predominant in the South and Midwest, and these regions had more workers proportionately with garnished wages. One-quarter of men in the Midwest who worked in large manufacturing and were 35 to 55 years old had their wages garnished.

Wage garnishment is usually initiated by court order and continues until a debt is paid off. Compliance for companies can be costly. The study found that while the rate of wage garnishments was higher in bigger companies, employees at smaller companies were more likely to have their wages garnished for child support.

If parents have a legally binding agreement regarding child support and one parent is not receiving child support payments, a local or state child support enforcement agency may help the parent collect support. However, there are usually several steps before a person's wages are garnished. A parent who cannot afford to pay child support because of a change in material circumstances, such as loss of income, can petition the court for a modification in child support. If the court approves it, then the parent can begin paying the new amount, but the modification will have no effect on any past-due amounts.

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Bruce Turner

In addition to his law degree, Bruce Turner has a master's degree in tax law and is Board Certified in Commercial Real Estate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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