Q & A: How does wage garnishment work in a child support case?

A client was recently ordered to pay child support in the approximate amount of $700 per month. This amount will be withheld from the client’s paychecks by county support and collections. The client’s monthly gross income is $2200 to $2400. The client’s wages are already being garnished in the average amount of $400-$500 per month for a non-child support judgment. How much money will be garnished from the client’s disposable income after the child support is withheld?

After reviewing Minnesota Statute 571.992 regarding limitation on wage garnishment, it appears that 25% of the client’s disposable income can be garnished after the full amount of child support is withheld. Is this a correct analysis?

Look at Minnesota Statute 518A.53 and 11 U.S.C. 1673(b). Child support obligations take priority over other types of attachments. Depending on the situation the child support obligation can attach up to 65% of the obligor’s disposable earnings.

If the child support order results in attachment of more than 25% of the disposable earnings, no other non-support attachment can exist while the support order attachment is in place. This is because more than 25% of the disposable earnings are already being attached.

Currently, there is no Minnesota case law that actually has a holding stating this. However, other federal courts have interpreted the federal law this way.

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