Garnishment of Wages after Divorce

Jodee Redmond
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Garnishment of wages after divorce can be ordered if a former spouse either refuses or fails to pay either alimony or child support. It is a legal remedy where a portion of the money a person earns is withheld by his or her employer. The withheld funds are then used to pay down the outstanding debt.

Alimony and Child Support

When a couple divorces, one former spouse may be ordered to pay alimony to the other. Alimony is financial support given to a former spouse. It can be awarded to either the male or female partner. The Court has flexibility with respect to awarding alimony. The amount can be paid for a certain amount of time or until the spouse receiving payments dies or remarries. An order may be made to pay the alimony in a lump sum, either in the form of a cash payment or through the transfer of ownership of a certain property to the other party.

If the couple has a child or children, the non-custodial parent may be ordered to make child support payments to the parent who has physical custody of the child or children of the marriage. If the parent with physical custody does not receive the child support payments as ordered, he or she can file a case to enforce the order for child support. It may be possible to proceed with a garnishment of wages after divorce of the non-custodial parents' wages (even if he or she lives in another state).

Consumer Credit Protection Act

The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) is an important piece of legislation with respect to the garnishment of wages after divorce. Title III of the CCPA protects an employee from being dismissed from his or her job due to a single garnishment proceeding. Please note that this legislation does not offer protection from discharge to an individual if his or her earnings are being garnished for a second (or subsequent) debt. The provisions of Title III apply to those persons who receive what are referred to under the Act as "personal earnings."

Personal Earnings

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Personal earnings are made up of the following sources of income:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Bonuses
  • Commissions

Income received from a pension or a retirement program also falls under the category of personal earnings. Restaurant workers should be aware that tips are not automatically included in this category.

Garnishment of Wages After Divorce Limitations

Title III of the CCPA sets limits on the amount of personal earnings that may be garnished on a weekly basis or per pay period. The limits are as follows:

  • 50 Percent of the Employee's Personal Earnings

This limit is in force if the employee is currently married and supporting his or her spouse. The 50 percent limit is also in effect if the employee is currently supporting a child.

  • 60 Percent of the Employee's Personal Earnings

If the employee is not currently supporting a spouse or a child, the limit for garnishment of wages after divorce increases to 60 percent of personal earnings

If the support payments are in arrears for 12 weeks or more, an additional five percent may be deducted from the employee's earnings.

Employee Rights

Under the provisions of Title III of the CCPA, employees have the right to receive payment for the services they perform despite wage garnishment after divorce. Keep in mind that a single debt that is subject to garnishment is not considered a legitimate reason for dismissal. If an individual feels his or her rights under Title III have been violated, recourse is available. Complaints may be reported to the Wage and Hour Division of the U. S. Department of Labor. The information provided in this article is for general information purposes only. To find out about garnishment of wages after divorce in your state, please consult with an attorney.

Garnishment of Wages after Divorce