In a previous article we discussed the possibility of wage garnishment and what it entails. However, the process does not end there. There are certain limits and exceptions placed on wage garnishment. The state of Georgia’s maximum child support garnishment limits are less restrictive than most other states. In fact, an order for support takes priority over most other types of withholding orders. Even if the employee is subject to more than one withholding order, Georgia law prohibits going over the garnishment limits.
Let’s begin with discussing what the maximum withholding amount is. The state of Georgia follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) in defining “disposable earnings” and in determining what exactly the maximum withholding amount is that those disposable earnings are subject to. To begin this process, the employer should subtract all of the legally required deductions from the employee’s earnings because certain types of income and property are exempt. Examples of legally required deductions are federal, state and local taxes, social security, and the employee portion of state unemployment compensation insurance.
The amount left is the employee’s disposable earnings. Deductions can never exceed the withholding limits. If there is not enough allowable disposable earnings, then the employer should use the pro rata method to allocate payments. This method is based on the percentage of the disposable earnings that the support payment takes up.
Next, the disposable earnings are subject to maximum withholding limits. Under the CCPA and Georgia law, these include:
- 50% if the employee supports a second family;
- 55% if the employee supports a second family and owes more than 12 weeks in back support;
- 60% if the employee does not support a second family; and
- 65% if the employee does not support a second family and does not owe more than 12 weeks in back support.
The employer must also look at allocation and priority of support payments if an employee is subject to two or more support orders. The current support order should be allocated first, then any arrears, and followed by any medical support payments. This is true for all state issued ordered. The employer should generally prioritize the support payment first, regardless of whether another withholding came before or after the order for support.
Even though this process is complicated and cumbersome for employers, you cannot be terminated because you are subject to a wage garnishment for child support. Under Georgia law, if an employer discriminates against an employee, or refuses to hire such person, on the basis of a support order, the employer will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 for the first occurrence and up to $500 for every occurrence after that.
If you are subject to a wage garnishment for child support, please contact the experienced attorneys at Vayman & Teitelbaum. Our team can help explain this complicated process to you in easy to understand terms as well as advocate for the correct amount to be deducted from your paycheck.