Wage garnishment when I’ve never missed a support payment?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My divorce decree states that if I am more than 45 days late with my monthly child support payment then my wages are subject to garnishment.

My ex-wife claims my wages can still be garnished to ensure payment even though I have never been late with a child support payment. Is this true?


In Michigan, there are two types of garnishment: periodic and non-periodic. Periodic garnishments allow a creditor to take a percentage of your paycheck. Non-periodic garnishments are one-shot attempts to collect funds, usually directed at bank accounts. A garnishment order is valid for 91 days, and thereafter the creditor must petition the court again.

The answer to your question will depend on the specific language in your Judgment of Divorce. Generally, any creditor can petition the court for a writ of garnishment to collect monies owed. But, if you and your ex agreed that there would be a 45-day grace period and it is written in your Judgment, a writ of garnishment cannot be issued until that time period has expired.

If your wife files a petition for garnishment you should object to it and bring your Judgment of Divorce to court to show the judge that you have both agreed to a grace period. Unless there is a compelling reason not to, the judge will likely uphold the grace period you agreed to.

Although I practice law in Michigan, I cannot give you legal advice without thoroughly reviewing your case. Do not rely on this information as establishing an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney immediately for assistance. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients in Michigan.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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