If you've fallen behind on your child support payments in South Carolina you may be worried about the possibility of wage garnishment, which is also called wage withholding or payroll deduction. Keep reading to learn how child support wage garnishment works and how much money might be taken from your paycheck.
What is wage garnishment?
Garnishment refers to the withholding of a person's income. Wage garnishment works by siphoning off a portion of a person's paycheck to be applied to a debt, in this case, child support arrearages. Unlike a lawsuit that results in a judgment against a person, garnishment takes the money away automatically – before the person has a chance to spend it elsewhere.
How to does it work?
Wages can be garnished in either of two ways. First, a person can voluntarily sign up for wage withholding, which some people do for convenience. More frequently, it takes place pursuant to a Court Order, which authorizes the Clerk of Court's Child Support Enforcement Division to seize a portion of a person's salary. In either instance, the Clerk charges a 5% collection fee for the withholding, which is in addition to the amount of child support.
The Clerk forwards a Notice to Withhold to the person's employer, who is then required to withhold a portion of the person's pay automatically and forward it to the Clerk for processing and payment to the child support recipient. The employer has the ability to charge a fee of up to $3.00 for each instance of withholding, which is in addition to the amount withheld pursuant to the Notice to Withhold.
How much money can be taken?
Federal and state laws require withholdings for child support to take priority over all other income withholdings. An employer must withhold the full amount indicated on the Notice to Withhold, unless this amount exceeds 50 percent of the employee's net disposable income. The Notice to Withhold should explain how to calculate net disposable income.
If the total amount to withhold exceeds this 50 percent threshold, the employer should allocate the withholdings for each notice so that the total amount withheld does not exceed this 50 percent threshold. The employer must also notify (in writing) the entities issuing the notices for its reason for not fully complying, but the allocation for multiple orders should never result in the failure to comply with one of the notices. Amounts withheld for current obligations have priority over withholding for arrearages.
You can click here to learn more about child support wage garnishment in South Carolina.