New York Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections
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Like all other states, New York has maximum wage garnishment limits that cannot be exceeded. This is true even if the noncustodial parent is subject to more than one withholding order for New York child support garnishment. While enforcing child support garnishment can mean extra administrative work for the employer, New York employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee on the basis of a support order.
Garnishment Limits and Exemptions
New York follows the garnishment limits set forth in the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Only income that is defined as earnings by the CCPA is protected by these limits. The CCPA defines earnings as any income that is paid or payable for personal services. When calculating the garnishment limits for withholding purposes, you must first subtract all deductions from these earnings that are required by law. What you are left with are "disposable earnings," which are subject to maximum withholding limits. The New York and CCPA withholding limits are as follows:
- 50% if the employee supports a second family;
- 55% if the employee supports a second family and is twelve weeks or more behind on their support payments;
- 60% if the employee does not support a second family; or
- 65% if an employee does not support a second family and is not twelve weeks or more behind on their support payments.
Allocation and Priority
When an employee is subject to more than one support order, and the total amount due in the support orders exceeds the allowable withholding limits, the employer should deduct for the current support, followed by the arrearages if there is anything left. If the current support due exceeds the withholding limits, then the employer should use the pro rata method to allocate support payments. Allocation through the pro rata method is based on the percentage that the support payment takes out of the total disposable earnings.
Sometimes an employee will be subject to both a support order and another type of withholding order. Generally, the employer should pay the support order first, regardless of whether the other withholding order was received before or after the support order. This is true for all state-issued orders for garnishment or legal processes, as well as for Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment orders issued on or after October 17, 2005.
IRS levies, however, are prioritized before a support order. When an employer receives both an IRS levy and a support order for the same employee, and there are not enough allowable disposable earnings to pay both, the employer should call the IRS to see if it will accommodate the support order. Many times, IRS agents will agree to an accommodation, which the employer should obtain in writing. The employer should also notify the agency that issued the support order about the employee's IRS levy.
Protection from Discrimination
An employer who discriminates against, refuses to hire, or terminates an employee because of a support order is subject to a civil action by the victim. The employer may also be subject to a maximum penalty of $500 for the first occurrence, and $1,000 for every occurrence thereafter.