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Minimum and Maximum
Child Support

by Wes Cowell; updated 19 August 2015 -- suggest a correction


There is a limit to how much of a paycheck may be garnished for child support . . . and a lower limit that even the unemployed must pay.  Need advice? Callleave your info., or scheduleschedule a consult.


Once you figure out the obligor's gross income (all income from all sources) and subtract allowable deductions, and apply the deviation factors, you're left with the child support obligation.  Even then, though, the obligation may fall outside allowable limits and require an adjustment.  


The Maximum Cap:  Federal Law caps the amount that may be garnished from anyone's paycheck.  The cap is the lesser of 25% of disposable earnings or the amount by which the debtor's disposable earnings exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage.  The law has an exception, however, for child support withholding.  This federal law applies to ALL state cases . . . including child support cases.  The child support withholding exception says:


Sec. 1673 Restriction on Garnishment

(2) The maximum part of the aggregate disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subject to garnishment to enforce any order for the support of any person shall not exceed—


(A) where such individual is supporting his spouse or dependent child (other than a spouse or child with respect to whose support such order is used), 50 per centum of such individual's disposable earnings for that week; and


(B) where such individual is not supporting such a spouse or dependent child described in clause (A), 60 per centum of such individual's disposable earnings for that week; except that, with respect to the disposable earnings of any individual for any workweek, the 50 per centum specified in clause (A) shall be deemed to be 55 per centum and the 60 per centum specified in clause (B) shall be deemed to be 65 per centum, if and to the extent that such earnings are subject to garnishment to enforce a support order with respect to a period which is prior to the twelve-week period which ends with the beginning of such workweek.


(C) Execution or enforcement of garnishment order or process prohibited.  No court of the United States or any State, and no State (or officer or agency thereof), may make, execute, or enforce any order or process in violation of this section.

15 U.S.C. 1673(b) and (c)


So, if you're single and paying support, the cap is 60%.  If, however, you currently have a dependent spouse or child, then the cap is only 50%.  There's an exception to the exception, too:  If you're paying off an arrearage that's more than three months old, then caps are raised to 65% and 55%, respectively.


The Minimum Limit:  Illinois law (750 ILCS 5/505.1) deals with unemployed obligors succinctly.  It gives the court the power to compel an unemployed obligor to:

  1. seek employment, keep a "job diary," and report back to the court periodically about the status of the job search;

  2. report to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (the unemployment office) for job search services;

  3. apply to the local provider of the Jobs Training Partnership Act to participate in job search efforts, training, or work programs

  4. if the child is receiving Public Aid, the court can require the obligor to report to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services for job search, training, or work programs under Section 9-6 and Article IX A of the Public Aid Code.



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