Can Child Support Be the Majority of Your Paycheck?

By Teo Spengler

Your primary obligation as a parent is to support your minor children, providing a home, food and heath care. The noncustodial parent generally fulfills this duty by paying child support to the custodial parent. The percent of your paycheck that can be taken for child support varies, but it can be as high as 65 percent.

Your primary obligation as a parent is to support your minor children, providing a home, food and heath care. The noncustodial parent generally fulfills this duty by paying child support to the custodial parent. The percent of your paycheck that can be taken for child support varies, but it can be as high as 65 percent.

Linked to Income

No matter how much you love your kids, the idea of a whopping child support award may frighten a divorcing parent. States use different formulas to determine the amount of child support a parent must pay, but all take income into account. Some states determine the amount of financial support the children require, then apportion that amount between the parents according to their respective incomes.

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All Income Included

However, your income is not necessarily equal to your paycheck in the eyes of the law. The court looks to any money that you receive, including investment interest, rental proceeds, retirement and disability payments. It includes in your income any spousal support you get from a prior marriage and payments you receive from a trust fund. If your wages are only a small portion of your income, your child support obligation could easily exceed 50 percent of your paycheck.

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is a legal procedure that creditors can use to collect debts, including child support obligations. When wages are garnished, the employer is ordered to withhold a certain amount each month that is paid directly to the creditor or her representative. Federal laws limit the percentage of an employee's salary that can be taken in garnishment to 25 percent, but different rules apply to child support obligations.

Child Support Garnishment

Up to 60 percent of your paycheck can be withheld for child support under federal rules. This percentage drops to 50 if you also pay support to a spouse. However, it goes up by 5 percent if you owe three months or more of arrears. States can establish smaller maximum percentages, and some do. Check with your local child support enforcement office to determine your state's maximum.

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What Percent Is Deducted for Child Support?

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Reasons to Deviate From California Guidelines for Child Support

Divorce does not relieve either parent of the obligation to financially support their children. In California, state guidelines are used to calculate a support amount according to the incomes of both parents. However, in some cases, the amount that a parent is ordered to pay is found to be inappropriately high or low. Courts have the discretion to deviate from the support formula in limited circumstances when this happens.

Missouri Statutes on Divorce & Child Support

In Missouri, the courts use the "income shares model" to calculate child support payments. The income shares model is intended to ensure that a child receives the same proportion of parental income that she would have received if the parents had not divorced. The model determines child support based on how much each parent earns. According to Missouri law, the court can deviate from the income shares model under certain circumstances.

What Is the Law Regarding Multiple Wage Garnishments in Illinois?

When an Illinois debtor has not repaid a debt, the creditor may seek a judgment from an Illinois court ordering that the debt be paid. Judgment creditors may legally seize a portion of an employee's paycheck to satisfy the debt. This process, known as "garnishment," is governed by state and federal law. In Illinois, state law restricts the process for more than one judgment creditor to garnish an employee's paycheck.

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