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When wages are garnished for child support

Some North Carolina employees may be among those whose wages are being garnished for child support payments. On Sept. 27, the ADP Research Institute released a study that was based on date from 12 million workers. The study found that 7 percent of workers have had their wages garnished, and most of those garnishments were for child support.

Workers in the South and the Midwest are more likely to have their wages garnished than workers in other areas. Among men ages 35 to 55 in the Midwest who work in large manufacturing jobs, about one-quarter have their wages garnished. Most wage garnishments are of male workers, and they are most often for child support.

Workers in goods producing companies are more likely to have their wages garnished than those who work in the service sector at 10 percent compared to 7 percent. The garnishing of wages can cause expensive compliance issues for employers and can be stressful for employees.

Unfortunately, wage garnishment may be the only avenue for a parent to get child support payments from the other parent. State and local child support agencies may assist in obtaining child support although it is usually not the first action that is taken. Child support is usually paid to the parent who has custody, and it is decided based on a variety of factors including income and how much a parent is paying toward the child's health care. Once a child support order is in place, it can be changed, but it must be done through the court system and there must be a good reason for the change. For example, if a parent loses a job, it might be possible to get a child support modification. A parent should not change how much is paid until the court has modified the initial order.

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