Georgia Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections
Georgia’s maximum child support garnishment limits are less restrictive than some states. An order for support in Georgia takes priority over most other withholding orders. Additionally, even if the employee is subject to more than one withholding order, Georgia garnishment law prohibits exceeding the garnishment limits. An employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of a support order. A discriminating employer may be subject to civil penalties, which increase with additional offenses.
Garnishment Limits and Exemptions
Georgia follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) in defining “disposable earnings” and in determining the maximum withholding amount those “disposable earnings” are subject to. First, the employer should subtract all the legally required deductions from the employee’s earnings. This leaves the employee’s “disposable earnings.” The “disposable earnings” are subject to maximum withholding limits, which under CCPA and Georgia law are as follows:
- 50% if the employee supports a second family;
- 55% if the employee supports a second family and owes more than twelve 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 twelve weeks in back support.
Allocation and Priority
If an employee is subject to two or more support orders, the employer should use the following procedure to allocate the support orders: the current support should be allocated first, followed by arrears, and then medical support payments. Remember that the deductions can never exceed the withholding limits. If there are not enough allowable disposable earnings, the employer should use the pro rata method to allocate payments. The pro rata method is based on the percentage of the disposable earnings that the support payment takes up.
When an employer is served with a support order and another type of garnishment order, the employer should generally prioritize the support payment first, regardless of whether the other withholding order came before or after the order for support. This is true for all state-issued orders, and after October 17, 2005, applies to Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment orders as well. IRS levies, however, are to be prioritized before support payments. When an employer receives an IRS levy for an employee subject to a withholding order, they can contact the IRS to see if it will agree to accommodate the support order, which the IRS often will do. The employer should contact the issuing agency about the IRS levy and obtain in writing any IRS agreement to accommodation.
Protection from Discrimination
If an employer discriminates against an employee, or refuses to hire a person, on the basis of a support order, they will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $250 for the first occurrence, and up to $500 for every occurrence thereafter.