South Carolina Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections

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While all sources of the noncustodial parent’s income are subject to South Carolina wage garnishment, maximum garnishment limits and exemptions do apply. These South Carolina garnishment limits act to protect the noncustodial parent from total depletion of earnings. Garnishment limits are especially important when the noncustodial parent (paying parent) has more than one wage assignment or child support garnishment order.

Garnishment Limits and Exemptions

When determining the amount of income that qualifies for exemption, South Carolina follows the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA). Under the CCPA, an employee’s disposable earnings are subject to maximum withholding limits. Disposable income is that part of earnings that remains after deducting
federal, state, or local taxes; any mandatory contributions by a state-run unemployment, disability, or pension program; Social Security and Medicare taxes, and any mandatory contributions under the Railroad Retirement Act. 

Under the CCPA in South Carolina, disposable earnings are subject to the following maximum garnishment limits:

  • 50% if the employee supports a second family;
  • 55% if the employee supports a second family and is over 12 weeks in arrears;
  • 60% if the employee does not have a second family or less than 12 weeks in arrears;
  • 65% if the employee does not have a second family or is over 12 weeks in arrears.

Allocation and Priority

If the employee has more than one withholding order but not enough disposable income to pay all, the employer must allocate withheld payments using the pro rata method. The pro rata method is based on the ratio that the support payment holds of the total allowable disposable earnings. Current support should be allocated first, and if there are any disposable earnings left, the employer should then deduct for medical support premiums and arrears, in that order. The employer should also notify any issuing agency whose order the employee has been unable to fulfill.

When an employer is served with multiple wage withholding orders on the same employee, priority is given to current child support first over all other income attachments or granishments. Amounts withheld for current support obligations have priority over wage withholding for past due amounts.

If the employee does not have sufficient disposable earnings, the support order takes priority , including any
Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment order issued on or after October 17, 2005, even though the other withholding orders were issued before the support order was established. Federal (IRS) tax levies already in place against the employee's earnings prior to the date the child support order was entered, however, have priority.  If there is insufficient income to pay the IRS and the child support amount, the employer should contact the IRS agent listed on the levy to see if the IRS levy can be modified to allow withholding of any child support. If so, the employer should get this in writing as well as contact the agency or court that issued the support order.

Protection from Discrimination

A South Carolina employer is subject to a fine of up to $500 for discriminating against an employee or refusing to hire an individual because of income withholding for child support.

Getting Legal Help

If you have any questions about South Carolina wage garnishment limits or child support orders, contact an experienced South Carolina child support attorney.

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