When parents in Pennsylvania fall behind on child support, one way that they may be compelled to keep paying that support is through wage garnishment. On Sept. 27, the ADP Research Institute released a study indicating that 7 percent of workers across the country have their wages garnished. The highest number of garnishments are for child support, and these are largely paid by men. Fewer than 30 percent of wage garnishments are women’s, and they tend to have their wage garnished for other reasons, such as student loans or consumer debt.

The study found that workers in the Midwest and the South are more likely to have their wages garnished than workers in other areas. These regions have a higher number of goods-producing companies, and workers at these companies are more likely than workers in the service sector to have their wages garnished.

According to the study, larger companies have proportionately more people whose wages are garnished, but smaller companies have more workers whose wages are garnished for child support. More than one-quarter of men ages 35 to 55 in the Midwest with large manufacturing jobs have wages garnished. Wages are usually garnished by court order and continue until a debt has been satisfied.

Family law courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child. The assumption of a court is that all parents have an obligation to support their children, but if a parent’s change in income makes it impossible to continue paying the same amount, the court might grant a modification based on a change in circumstances. However, until this modification has been approved, the legal system will consider that parent to owe the originally agreed-upon payment. If the parent simply stops paying support, the parent’s wages may be garnished, but this is usually not the first step for child support enforcement.