Michigan Child Support Garnishment Limits, Exemptions and Protections
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Jul 6, 2018
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
Even though a parent may owe child support, not all of his or her earnings are subject to wage garnishment, and certain limits will apply under Michigan garnishment law. Michigan laws allow for the support of children while maintaining the core means by which the supporting parent is able to support him or herself as well. There are two major ways in which limits are set on child support collections: by setting limits on the percentage taken from a parent’s earnings and by setting limits on how “earnings” are defined. If a parent is subject to multiple garnishment orders, further limits are set by allocating which order is satisfied first and giving certain types of orders priority over others.
Garnishment Limits and Exemptions
Michigan limits garnishment for support to 50% of disposable earnings. Disposable earnings means wages, salary, commissions, and other earnings, and rent or other periodic income that are or become payable during the garnishment period, less deductions required by law. These limits do not apply to income that does not fit the definition of earnings. The term “earnings” is defined in the U.S. Code, Title 15, Section 1672, as compensation paid or payable for personal services, whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, or otherwise, and includes periodic payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program. So earnings do not include every penny you might get from an employer—it excludes, for example, gifts and some holiday bonuses.
Allocation and Priority
If there are multiple orders (as a result of multiple divorces or children from different mothers, for example), current support is withheld first. If current support does not exhaust the available disposable earnings, arrearages (or unpaid past support obligations) are paid next. Any remainder will go to health premiums.
A support order has priority over any state-issued withholding order and Chapter 13 withholding orders from bankruptcy courts. Pre-existing IRS levies have priority over later-served support orders. So if your ex-spouse owes the IRS money and, later, owes for child support, your child(ren) will receive their support after the IRS gets its due.
Protection from Discrimination
It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against an employee because a support order has been issued. Similarly, an employer may not use the suspension of a driver’s license, occupational license, or recreational license as grounds to discipline, discharge, or refuse to hire an employee unless the license is legally required for part of the employee’s job.