In cases of separation or divorce where two people share one or more children, child custody and support determinations need to be made according to the best interests of the children involved. However, child support can be a sensitive matter, especially for paying parents who may be unprepared to pay.
If you haven’t paid child support in CT, you may be at risk for wage garnishment. Here’s what to know about having your wages garnished for child support and how to obtain the guidance you need from a veteran family lawyer.
What Is Wage Garnishment For CT Child Support?
If you owe back child support to your child’s other parent, they have a few different ways they can compel you to make payments or collect child support from you. They can file a petition with a Connecticut Superior Court to obtain a child support judgment for the amount of money owed. Many collection measures, including the seizure of property and wage garnishment, become accessible after a child’s parent obtains a court order against the other for unpaid child support.
Wage garnishment is a type of income withholding, similar to the way taxes work. Before you receive your salary, a percentage of it is taken out and distributed to the custodial parent. In many jurisdictions, back child support can be recovered by wage garnishment without having to go to court for a judgment against the non-custodial parent.
How Does Wage Garnishment Work?
Once a judgement has been entered in your case, the child’s primary custodial is given a writ of execution that gives the police department the authority to garnish your earnings. The custodial parent gives the writ of execution sheriff, who can then instruct your employer to withhold child support arrears from your paycheck.
The amount of money taken from your salary is a percentage of your total pay. In Connecticut, this percentage depends on how much you earn and how many children you have. If you owe back and current child support, the amount of money that gets taken from your pay will likely be greater than if you did not owe unpaid support.
If a judge determines that your earnings should be garnished to pay child support arrears, the maximum amount that can be withheld under federal law is 25% of your net salary. However, if you owe back child support, this can result in the garnishment of as much as 60% of your net salary, or 50% if you are paying support for a second dependent.
If your income is already subject to garnishment for something else, the total amount of money taken from your pay cannot exceed 65%, or 50% if you are currently paying support for a second defendant and are over 12 weeks (3 months) behind on child support payments.
Use the child support calculator in Connecticut here.
Scheduling a Hearing to Modify Wage Garnishment
Once your wages start getting garnished, you can file a petition for a court hearing to contest the garnishment or request that the percentage of income withheld be lowered. Only a few arguments are allowed at this hearing, such as:
- The amount of child support you owe according to the court is incorrect
- The wage garnishment leaves you with insufficient funds to survive
- You had primary physical custody of the child at the time you were accruing back child support
In cases where the child’s other parent withholds visitation specifically by concealing the child, you may be able to argue that you do not owe child support during the period that your child was hidden from you. However, in some cases, the latter argument may not be viable.
How an Experienced CT Child Support Lawyer Can Help You
If you are unable to meet your child support obligations due to financial hardship or you believe that too much money is being withheld from your wages for child support, a veteran CT child support lawyer can assist you.
Heidi E. Opinsky has the experience and skills needed to provide you with comprehensive legal representation whether you are separating or getting a divorce and need help with child support, child custody, and other important family legal matters. Contact Attorney Opinsky today for your consultation by dialing 203-653-3542 or read more about Connecticut child support guidelines here.