Wage Garnishment

Wage Garnishment

Facing Child Support Payment Issues?

Wage garnishment can be used in a variety of cases, including bankruptcy, spousal support, and child support. If a parent neglects to provide the child support that was ordered by the court, there are steps that will be taken to enforce the court orders. One of these steps is wage garnishment. Wage garnishment is a legal process where a sum is taken out of the person's wages for the purpose of paying a debt. In family law cases, this debt is a failure to pay child support. Garnishment law in child support cases differs from other types of garnishment.

What will happen is that a creditor will obtain an "earnings withholding order for support" (wage garnishment form) after a court judgment approving of such actions. This judgment will be issued to the debtor's employer, directing them to withhold a portion of the employee's paycheck. This withheld money will be collected by the employer and then sent to a levying officer. In the California court system, a levying officer is either a sheriff or marshal who has the authority to levy a judgment (seize money) on a debtor's property. It is important to remember that an employer cannot rightfully fire an employee just because they are having their wages garnished. This would be wrongful termination.

Need help? Request a consultation with a Riverside family law attorney.

California Wage Garnishment Laws in Code of Civil Procedure

The wage garnishment law is fully detailed in the California Code of Civil Procedure, Chapter 5, Articles 1-7. Any earnings that an employee gets from their employer can be withheld to pay child support. This includes wages, salary, commission or bonuses. Any violation of these laws, either by employee or employer, can constitute liability for civil damages and possibly even criminal prosecution. The maximum allowable garnishment from disposable earnings per week cannot exceed 25 percent in most wage garnishment cases, but there are some exceptions. One of the exceptions to withholding income is to support a spouse or dependent child.

According to 15 USC § 1673, when it comes to an individual who has been charged with the financial support of their dependent children or spouse, the garnishment can be up to 50% of their wages taken away. If they are not supporting any other children, it can be up to 60%. Under California law, wage garnishment regarding child custody is given priority in court. The court will examine the case and decide how much of the parent's earnings are to be taken away, as well as for how long. After the proceeding, the garnishment will start immediately. Further, if they had stopped paying support for over twelve weeks, they will owe that much plus 5% interest.

Enforcement of Court Orders

When a parent fails to pay child support, a family lawyer could be of great benefit in enforcing the orders of the court. It may also be wise to speak with an attorney if you object to a wage garnishment that is being placed against you. You can request a court hearing after the garnishment has already begun if you wish to contest the amount owed, the amount that you will be left to live off of, custody and other issues.


Talk to a Riverside family law attorney from Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. We always fight to do everything in our power to protect families and stand up for our clients' rights.