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Wage garnishments, child support and demographic data

Some Kentucky workers may have their wages garnished if they have unpaid child support. A study released on Sept. 27 by the ADP Research Institute found that around 7 percent of workers nationwide have their wages garnished for some type of debt. More than 70 percent of garnishments are of men's wages, and these are largely for child support. When women's wages are garnished, it is usually for other types of debts.

The study examined detailed demographics about what groups tend to have their wages garnished. For example, it found that men with an average income of around $44,000 annually who live in the Midwest and are ages 35-55 are most likely to have their wages garnished. One-quarter of men in this age group and this region who work in large manufacturing have a portion of their wages garnished. The South is another region where garnishments are common. Goods-producing companies tend to have more employees whose wages are garnished than companies in the service industry. While there tended to be more wage garnishments overall at larger companies, workers at smaller businesses are more likely to owe child support.

Wage garnishment can create expensive compliance issues for employers and may be stressful for the affected employees. A wage garnishment generally continues until a debt is paid off in full.

Non-custodial parents may be able to take steps to avoid having their wages garnished. Usually, the amount of a child support payment is set during the divorce based on income along with other considerations such as the cost of health care. If parents can no longer afford to pay the amount agreed upon in the divorce due to a change in circumstances, such as increased financial obligations or the loss of a job, they can ask for a child support modification through the court system.

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