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Unpaid child support and wage garnishment

New Jersey workers whose wages are garnished for child support are more likely to be men than women. A nationwide study by the ADP Research Institute that was released on Sept. 27 found that of the 7 percent of workers who had wage garnishments in 2016, nearly three quarters were men and the majority were for child support. Consumer debt, student loans and taxes were more common reasons for women to have garnishments. Almost two-thirds of people whose wages were garnished were 35 to 54 years old.

Male middle-aged Midwestern workers accounted for many garnishments with 26 percent of men ages 35 to 55 employed by large manufacturing plants having wage garnishments. The average income of this group annually was $44,000. Midwestern and Southern workers were more likely to have wages garnishments than workers in other regions. The study found that goods-producing companies had more garnishments than the service industry, and there are more goods-producing companies in these regions.

Generally, a court order is needed to garnish wages. The garnishment usually continues until the debt has been paid. Wage garnishments can create difficulties for employers, who have to deal with compliance issues, and for the employees, as it causes financial stress.

However, in some cases, wage garnishment is the only way a custodial parent can collect child support. The court system may assist with child support enforcement. A parent who can no longer afford to pay child support because of a change in income is not permitted to simply stop paying. That parent must go through the court system to get a modification of the order. Even if it is granted, attorneys will remind their clients that it is usually not retroactive and thus will not have any effect on past due amounts>.

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