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Child support is the main reason for wage garnishments

On Sept. 27, the ADP Research Institute released a study examining wage garnishments using anonymous data from 12 million workers throughout the country. Researchers found that around 7 percent of workers, or 1 in every 14, had their wages garnished for various reasons including tax debt and consumer loans. However, more than 70 percent of workers whose wages were garnished were men, and the vast majority of those men had their wages garnished because of nonpayment of child support. Some Maryland workers are likely among these employees.

For middle-aged men in the Midwest who worked in large manufacturing, the rate of wage garnishments was 26 percent. The average salary of these workers was $44,000. Along with the Midwest, the South was also more likely than other regions to have employees whose wages were garnished. Companies that were goods-producing, more common in these regions than in other areas of the country, were more likely than service sector companies to have employees whose wages were garnished. Proportionately, there were more employees whose wages were garnished at larger companies, but smaller companies had a higher child support garnishment rate.

A court order initiates a wage garnishment. The garnishments then usually continue until the debt has been paid.

Most of the time, it is the noncustodial parent who pays child support, and the amount paid is generally based on income along with other factors such as certain expenses. Parents who cannot pay this amount may petition the court for a modification, although they must have a good reason such as a job loss. If one parent has fallen behind on child support payments, the other parent may ask the court system for help. In addition to garnishing wages, a court may seize a parent's income tax refund or take other enforcement measures.

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