Wage Garnishment, Family Law, & You

Family law disputes can have a number of outcomes. In various types of cases, particularly order enforcement suits, it's not uncommon for the court to garnish an individual's wages to compensate for missed payments. Will your wages be garnished in your family law case? Read today's blog to find out if it's a possibility.

To schedule a consultation with our team for your family law dispute, contact us online or via phone at (423) 299-4489.

What Is Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishing occurs when a court or government agency issues an order enabling an organization or other third party to withhold money from your paycheck to pay for some type of expense.

For example, defaults on student loans and unpaid income taxes can both be penalized by wage garnishings. In this situation, a government agency - typically the IRS - can find an individual's bank account and automatically withhold a certain amount of money from paychecks to repay missed student loan or income tax payments.

It's important to note that Tennessee does impose certain restrictions on wage garnishment. In Tennesse, a court or government agency can only garnish 25% of your disposable earnings for that week (meaning earnings that are not allocated toward providing you with a basic quality of life), or the amount by which your current disposable earnings for the week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.

When Does Wage Garnishment Occur in Family Law Cases

The majority of the time, wage garnishing happens in child support cases.

When a party falls behind on child support - becomes "delinquent" - and Tennesse Child Support Enforcement Services or the child support recipient enters a support enforcement case against the delinquent party, the court may garnish the delinquent payor's wages to compensate for missed child support.

In support enforcement cases, courts also have the option of holding delinquent payors in contempt of court, which may be associated with a fine or jail time. However, in most cases, courts recognize that the penalties associated with being held in contempt of court may only make it more challenging for an individual to pay for support.

As a result, most courts prefer methods, such as garnishing wages, that enable a delinquent support payor to continue working while forcing them to repay missed support.

What if I Can't Realistically Make Support Payments?

If you cannot realistically pay the amount in child support you owe, you should consider filing an order modification case.

If you experience a substantial change in circumstances that makes paying for your support order impossible, such as losing your job, you may be eligible for a support order modification. If the court rules in your favor in your order modification case, it may change the terms of your order, enabling you to get a more realistic child support order.

To schedule a consultation with our team for your family law dispute, contact us online or via phone at (423) 299-4489.

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