Child Support Frequently Asked Questions: Garnishment
Main Child Support FAQs
- Can my employer charge me for garnishing child support from my pay check?
Yes. Pursuant to C.R.S. 14-14-111.5 (16.7), an employer may deduct a processing fee of up to $5.00 each month from a child support payer’s pay, after the support is taken out. It is our experience that these occasions are few and far between. Our experienced family law attorneys have probably seen roughly 5 instances in more than a decade in which a fee is charged as part of the garnishment process.
- My ex-husband is being garnished for child support. In some months, the full amount isn’t taken out. Why?
When child support is paid through an income assignment, it is common practice for the payments to be made on a per check/per year basis. For example, if a person is scheduled to pay $500 per month in child support and is paid on the 1st and 15th of the month (twice per month), then the payment with each check would be $250. However, if that same person is paid every other week, the per check calculation would be different. In that instance, the child support recipient would be paid based on the following calculation: $500 per month child support payment (x) 12 months equals $6000 total obligation for the year. That figure would then be divided by 26 pay periods (52 weeks per year divided by 2). In that instance, the per pay check amount of child support paid would be $230.77. In some months, the payee would be shorted, receiving only $461.54. However, there will be several months during the year in which three payments are received, for a total of $692.31. In essence, things will balance out such that the yearly total of $6000 is paid. Unfortunately, this is a double-edged sword for both the payer and payee in some months.
- My ex-wife wants a wage assignment for child support. What can I do?
As divorce attorneys in Denver, the general rule of thumb followed by our legal team is that if one party wants child support to be paid through an income assignment, it will generally happen. Most courts also ascribe to this theory. C.R.S. 14-14-111.5 sets forth the rules, and exceptions thereto, regarding income assignments. For support orders entered after July 1, 1996, an income assignment can be activated automatically and there is generally nothing the payer can do. However, there are a couple of exceptions. If the parties have entered into a written agreement that child support will be paid in some form other than an income assignment, the child support recipient cannot just issue an income assignment. In such an instance, he or she will need to file a motion with the court requesting the income assignment. Grounds for activation that a court will entertain will include things like late payments or missed payments. Thus, if your agreement indicates an alternative method to pay child support and you have paid on time, a court may not allow activation of the income assignment.
Additionally, if a party seeks an income assignment, the payer may be able to stop such if he or she can demonstrate good cause why one should not be issued, including evidence that an income assignment would not be in the best interest of the children, that the payer has entered into a written agreement with the obligee to keep him or her informed of employment and health insurance coverage, and the payer can demonstrate that prior payments have been made in a timely fashion. Absent an agreement to an alternate method, with new orders, an income assignment can be issued with no advance notice. In most instances, people will seek an income assignment when payments are late or not made. Additionally, though orders may set forth an alternate method of payment, our attorneys will almost always insist upon a provision in either the decree of dissolution of marriage, or any agreement, that if support is late by “x” days more than “x” times, the recipient may execute an income assignment without needing to file a motion with the court.
- What’s the maximum percent that can be garnished from my pay for child support?
Generally, an employer may withhold 60% of a person’s disposable income for purposes of garnishing a current Colorado child support obligation. In instances in that back child support is being garnished pursuant to a judgment and writ, an employer can withhold between 35% and 50% of disposable pay. The fluctuation in the amounts depends upon whether the party being garnished in supporting a spouse or dependent child, and the length of time covered in the underlying child support judgment. Disposable income will generally mean income left after state and federal taxes, and other normal deductions, are subtracted from a person’s gross pay.