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How Wage Garnishment Works for Child Support

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When it comes to supporting your family, our child custody and support attorneys understand that there can be confusion surrounding wage garnishment for child support. We are here to help you understand your rights and what to expect, no matter which side you're on.

In North Carolina, depending on how child custody is determined, the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support to the custodial parent (the parent who has the child the majority of the time). In the event child support is not paid, a portion of the non-custodial parent's wages can be collected by the state and sent to the other parent directly.

How Is Child Support Determined?

First, let's look at how child support is determined. Unless the parents make their own determination of support and it's approved by the court, the court issues a specific amount. This amount is based on North Carolina child support guidelines that bases payment on:

  • Verified gross income
  • Existing support obligations and responsibility for other children
  • Child care costs
  • Health insurance and care costs
  • Any additional extraordinary expenses, such as private school tuition or transportation costs from one parent to another
  • How much time the child spends with each parent

After a support order has been ordered through NC Child Support Services (CSS), it is the paying parent's responsibility to ensure the child support payment is sent on time in the full amount.

Enforcing Child Support Payments

If the obligor parent (the one who is paying support) gets behind on payment, is in arrears, or pays erratically, the parent who is owed must file a contempt action with the court and attend a hearing. Having an attorney file on your behalf ensures the paperwork is completed correctly and your attorney can also represent you at a hearing to help explain the legal proceedings and advocate on your behalf.

It is during this hearing that the custodial parent can receive a court order for wage garnishment, in which the obligor parent's workplace deducts the court-ordered amount from their paycheck and sends it directly to the custodial parent.

Wage Garnishment for Child Support to the Custodial Parent

If you would like your child support attorney to file a motion for wage garnishment order you will need to bring the following information to your hearing:

  • Child's name to whom support is to be paid
  • Employer information of the non-custodial parent
  • Proof in the divorce and custody settlement that the non-custodial parent is under a court order to pay a set amount
  • Proof of delinquent, late, or erratic payment
  • The total amount sought to be withheld

The CSS can have up to 40 percent of the non-custodial parent's disposable income withheld for child support for one child, but this amount can go up for multiple children. In addition to the non-custodial parent's paycheck, tax refunds, unemployment compensation, and bank accounts may be garnished to collect back payments.

Once automatic payment through garnishment begins, even after the amount in arrears is paid, the non-custodial parent will most likely still have the regular monthly amount deducted from their check and sent to the custodial parent.

Wage Garnishment Information for Non-Custodial Parents

If you are behind on a child support payment, whether it's due to financial difficulties or other factors, you can't simply ignore the problem and hope it goes away. The state of North Carolina takes child support payments seriously; not only can wages, tax refunds, and other money listed above be garnished, but you can also lose your license, be found in Contempt of Court which can lead to a fine or jail time, and your credit can be affected.

If you're struggling with a payment, it's important to connect with an attorney as soon as possible rather than try to create an informal agreement with the custodial parent.

You and your attorney can petition the court to change the support amount if you've had financial difficulties. While you can't change payments retroactively, meaning you're still responsible for the amount you owe, you can see about having payments lowered moving forward.

Consult with A Child Support Attorney in Raleigh Today

If you are seeking assistance with child support collection or are struggling to pay child support, our family law attorneys are here to help. We have an experienced team on hand to work with you and act on your behalf to achieve a favorable outcome. To learn more about your options, schedule a consultation with us today at (919) 301-8843 or fill out our contact form below.

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