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Study looks at demographics of wage garnishment

A study released Sept. 27 from the ADP Research Institute suggests that more men than women in Florida may be facing a wage garnishment. The study found that more than 70 percent of people whose wages were garnished nationwide were men, and most of those garnishments were for nonpayment of child support.

More detailed demographic breakdowns revealed that workers in the South and the Midwest were more likely to have their wages garnished than employees in other parts of the country. Among male workers in the Midwest who work in large manufacturing jobs and who are aged 35 to 55, about 26 percent have their wages garnished. People who are employed by smaller companies are more likely to owe child support.

Wages are garnished after a court order, and the garnishment continues until a person's obligations are paid. Wage garnishments can create complex and expensive compliance issues for employers and stress for the affected employees.

After a divorce, people may suffer a drop in their standard of living. This could result both in the necessity for child support for the custodial parent and the difficulty of keeping up with support payments for the noncustodial parent. The child support payment is determined by income among other considerations, but if there is a change in the amount of support a person can pay, it may be possible to get a child support modification. A person who can no longer pay should not simply stop the payments until the court has agreed to a modification. Otherwise, the parent might be required to also pay penalties or interest on the unpaid amount prior to the court's approval of the modification. Changes such as child custody modifications may also need to go through a court.

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