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.

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.

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.

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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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How to Compute Child Support Payments in Michigan

Calculating child support under Michigan law can be confusing and complicated. The state uses the income shares model, meaning that child support should provide the children with the same lifestyle they had before the parents divorced. However, in Michigan, only the custodial parent receives child support. To calculate support, the state will consider the income of both parents and other factors concerning additional children, child care and medical needs. The state uses a number of formulas and calculations to take into account all the relevant factors. You may seek assistance from the state to verify your calculations.

Is Social Security Disability Exempt From Child Support and Divorce in Texas?

Although a court cannot divide your Social Security disability benefits in a divorce, those benefits do count as part of your income for child support purposes if the court orders you to pay child support. However, if your child receives Social Security payments based on your disability, the amount of those payments is offset against your child support obligation. If you fall behind on your child support, the court can garnish up to 50 percent of your Social Security disability benefits.

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