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Child support and wage garnishments

Some New Jersey workers may be among the 7 percent nationwide whose wages are being garnished. While employees may have their wages garnished because of student loans, consumer debt or taxes, the most common reason for wage garnishment is child support. These were the conclusions of a study released by the ADP Research Institute on Sept. 27. Usually, a court order garnishes wages until a certain debt or obligation is paid.

More than 70 percent of people having their wages garnished are men, and these are largely fathers who have fallen behind on child support. The study also identified other commonalities among people whose wages are garnished. Nearly two-thirds are between the ages of 35 and 54. Among men from the Midwest who are ages 35 to 55 and who work for large manufacturing companies, more than 25 percent have had their wages garnished.

Wage garnishment can be stressful for employees and may be costly in terms of compliance for employers. Proportionately, more workers in the Midwest and South have wages garnished than workers in other regions.

Child support is generally determined based upon income and other considerations. However, there may be times when a previously determined child support amount becomes difficult to pay. A noncustodial parent could lose a job or incur a major expense. When this occurs, the solution is not to simply stop paying support or to pay less support even if the other parent agrees. As long as there is a court order in place regarding child support, the parent must go back through the court system to have that amount changed. Until the child support modification is approved, the parent will continue to owe the same amount. A family law attorney can often assist with the process.

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