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Minnesota Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections

UPDATED: April 10, 2011

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While child support garnishment is taken very seriously, Minnesota garnishment law does offer protection for some of the noncustodial parent’s income. Even when an employer is served with multiple support orders, or other types of withholding orders for the same employee, a percentage of the employee’s income is protected by Minnesota child support garnishment limits. If full payment cannot be made for all of the withholding orders, Minnesota garnishment law holds the employer responsible for allocating payments in order of priority.

Garnishment Limits and Exemptions

While any form of income is subject to garnishment for purposes of child support collection, some of this income is protected by maximum withholding limits. Minnesota follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) to identify protected income and the maximum limits on enforcement. To determine protected income, first identify all legally required deductions from an employee’s gross earnings. The CCPA defines legally required deductions as all federal, state, and local withholding taxes; Social Security and Medicare taxes; mandatory deductions for state disability or unemployment insurance; mandatory contributions to a state pension system for public-sector employees; and contributions required under the Railroad Retirement Act. Once these deductions are made, the employee is left with their “disposable earnings,” which is the amount subject to the garnishment limits. Under the CCPA, the garnishment limits imposed on disposable earnings 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 payments;
  • 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 payments.

In Minnesota, if the employer receives more than one withholding order for the same employee, and with different percentages requested on each, the employer should withhold the higher percentage from the employee’s earnings and apply it to both.

Allocation and Priority

When an employer is served with more than one support order for the same employee, and the employee does not have enough allowable disposable earnings to make all payments in full, the employer must allocate the payments according to the proper priority. Remember that regardless of how many support orders exist for one employee, the CCPA limits withholding to 50%-65% of disposable earnings, even when these amounts are not enough to cover all support orders. The employer should withhold for current support first, based on the ratio that the current support payment holds of the total allowable disposable earnings. If there are any allowable disposable earnings remaining, the employer should follow the instructions in the National Medical Support Notice to prioritize the other payments. 

In situations where an employer receives both a support order and some other type of withholding order for the same employee, the general rule is that the employer should withhold for the support order first. This rule applies to all state-issued withholding orders as well as any Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment orders issued on or after October 17, 2005, no matter when the other withholding order was issued in relation to the support order. However, when an employer receives an IRS levy for an employee assigned to a support order, the employer should prioritize the levy first. Because IRS agents are sensitive to support orders, the employer should contact the IRS agent to see if an accommodation can be made. If the IRS agent agrees to this, the employer should get the official accommodation in writing. Either way, the employer should contact the agency that issued the support order to inform them of the existence of the tax levy on the employee’s wages.

Protection from Discrimination

It is against the law in Minnesota to discriminate against an employee or a prospective employee on the basis of a support order. Employers who violate this law may be ordered to pay the employee double the wages lost as a result of the violation, as well as a minimum fine of $500.

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