Child Support Enforcement: Garnishing Wages If Self-Employed

Pittsburgh divorce lawyer Anna CiardiQuestion:

My ex-wife owes me back child support, and I would like to know my enforcement options, including the possibility of a wage garnishment even though she is self-employed.

She has offered to set up a modified payment plan, but that offer would take years just to pay off the debt she already owes not even counting the recurring monthly obligations.

Do I have to accept this plan? Is there a way to garnish her wages if she is self-employed?


I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania child support laws where I am licensed to practice.

My state’s child support laws draw a distinction between overdue support (the amount of delinquent support equal to or greater than one month’s support obligation which accrues after entry or modification of a support order as the result of the obligor’s nonpayment of that order) and past due Support (the amount of support which accrues prior to entry or modification of a support order as the result of retroactivity of that order).

Further, when nonpayment of a child support order causes overdue support to accrue, any and all amounts of past due support owed under the order shall immediately be converted to overdue support.

Remedies available for enforcing a support order will depend on whether the back child support is a result of a retroactive order, or if they are a result of your ex failing to pay the support order. If it is a result of her failure to pay, there are more remedies available for enforcement.

Mandatory income withholding is the primary tool for enforcement of a support obligation, at least where I practice. This can be difficult in instances like your case, where your ex is self-employed. However, withholding is applicable to all forms of income, including income tax refunds.

There may also be other means to enforce a support order when payment is overdue, including: imposing liens on real property, attaching and seizing assets of the obligor held in financial institutions, initiating contempt proceedings, reporting the amount of overdue support to consumer reporting agencies, and, if the overdue support is more than three months worth, suspending driver’s licenses.

Generally, a child support obligation is something that states take extremely seriously, and there are a myriad of ways to enforce support orders.

Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.

To arrange an initial consultation to discuss divorce rights for men with a Cordell & Cordell attorney, including Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Anna M. Ciardi, contact Cordell & Cordell.

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