When child support payments are not being made, a wage garnishment order may go into effect. This means that the noncustodial parent will have income automatically taken out of their paycheck to pay for the child support. If the noncustodial parent is not working and is receiving Workers’ Compensation or disability insurance, these are also subject to wage garnishment. In addition, their private property could be seized.

In New Jersey, wage garnishment orders are sent to the employers, administrators of income, or other payment sources, like pensions, and must be enforced. If the employer is eligible for Workers’ Compensation or disability, the insurance company must be notified. Once the order is received, wages should be withheld on the following payday and each payday that follows. The monies can be sent to the spouse via Electronic Transfer Funds, Cash Concentration and Disbursement (CCD+) format, or Corporate Trade Exchange format.

How Wage Garnishment and Property Seizure Works

The first step in obtaining a wage garnishment order is for the custodial parent to contact the court for a writ of execution. The court considers previous support payments, child care and health insurance costs, visitations, and income from both parents. After a judgment is given, the prevailing party may request the garnishment order.

This order is then presented to the local sheriff, who informs the noncustodial parent and their employer. The actual amount depends on different variables. The maximum amount for unpaid child support can be 50 percent of net wages, if there is not already another dependent receiving child support. Those who owe more child support than their paychecks can cover may have assets seized. This can include homes, vehicles, stock, investments, and more.

Fighting a Wage Garnishment Order

Terminating a wage garnishment is not easy and must be court ordered.  Noncustodial parents are entitled to a court hearing if they object to the garnishment, but there are certain guidelines in these cases. It can be claimed that the amount is too high because it was calculated incorrectly, or that it leaves too little money to live on. The noncustodial parent may also claim that they had custody of the child when the support arrears were accumulating, or that the custodial parent was actively concealing the child.

Those who feel that their paychecks are being garnished for past due support that they do not owe may have a case. However, it must be shown clearly why the money is not owed. One example is if the custody situation has changed, and the child is now living with the former noncustodial parent. Changing jobs will not end the obligation. A new financial situation could result in a reduction of the amount of wage garnishment. If the paying parent has lost a job or has had their income reduced, they may be able to petition the court to have the amount recalculated.