Your wages can be garnished if you fail to pay child support. In fact, wage withholding for child support is automatic in Texas, per Texas Family Code §158.001.
If you are unable to meet your obligation to make the ordered support payments, request a modification of your child support through the proper channels. If you fail to make your payments, the parent who receives payments can request a garnishment.
Texas Laws Concerning Wage Withholding
As noted, wage withholding is automatic with child support orders. A wage withholding order is issued even if you’re not behind on payments.
The way it works is fairly straightforward. When the court signs the child support order, the recipient parent will send a copy of the order to your employer. Your employer is then bound by law to send the designated portion of your wages to the state agency on the next pay period. The agency then will distribute the money to the recipient parent.
But in some cases, the court may not issue an order for income withholding. Per Texas Family Code §158.002, the court may, “for good cause shown or on agreement of the parties,” find that the order isn’t necessary until the parent paying support is in arrears for more than 30 days, the amount in arrears is equal to or more than a typical one-month payment, or the parent paying support has violated the child support order.
Types of Wages that Can Be Withheld
Regular wages from the obligator’s job are usually the primary source of garnishment, but it’s not the only source. TFC § 101.011 explains that any type of “earnings” may be subject to garnishment.
In addition to wages and salary, other earnings that may be garnished include:
- compensation from independent contractor work;
- severance pay;
- interest income;
- pensions and annuities;
- workers’ compensation;
- retirement program payments; and
- unemployment benefits.
Garnishment for Child Support Arrears
If you have unpaid child support, or arrearages, the recipient parent will take the court order to the Sherriff. The court order, sometimes called a writ of execution, basically orders the Sherriff to seize a part of your wages. The Sherriff will then notify you and your employer of the order so the garnishment can commence.
The percentage of your wages withheld for arrearages depends on your situation. The court aims to take a certain portion of your wages to fulfill your order while still leaving you enough to live on. If you have unpaid child support, the court can order up to 50 percent of your disposable earnings to be withheld.
Talking to a Child Support Attorney about Your Options
In certain situations, the court will allow the garnishments to be reduced, but you’ll need to discuss the specifics of your case with an attorney. For an attorney in Dallas, call our child support team at the Law Office of Julie Johnson, PLLC. Contact us today for a consultation – (214) 290-8001.