WAGE ASSIGNMENT: Does an Employer Have to Honor a Wage Assignment?

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Due to the fact that employers act as a middleman between debtors and creditors, many businesses are unwilling to recruit individuals who have debt problems. You can fulfill a number of financial obligations by using wage assignment. More so, wage assignment can be voluntary or as an order from the court to an employer to collect a charge for spouse or child support from an employee’s wage. Let us explain what wage assignment is and how to stop it as we go further into this article. 

What is Wage Assignment?

A wage assignment is a practice of deducting funds directly from an employee’s paycheck to settle a debt. According to the circumstances, wage assignments may be voluntary or forced.

It is possible to use such an automated withdrawal plan known as wage assignment to settle a variety of debts, including unpaid taxes, defaulted student loan debt, and both child and spousal support payments. 

It simply means that debt collectors have the right to deduct payment for a debt from an employee’s paycheck.

Lenders frequently use wage assignments to obtain repayment from borrowers who have previously missed payments on their debts.

It means that the employee must withhold a portion of their salary until they are no longer having financial difficulties.

It is possible for wage assignment to be voluntary or not.

Since the 1980s, wage assignments have become more common in the United States as a method of paying child support. In 1984, the federal government mandated that the child support guidelines for welfare recipients be applied uniformly across all states. As time went on, all child support cases were treated equally under these regulations. Despite the fact that courts now issue wage assignment orders directing businesses to withhold child support payments and send the money to a specific recipient like a custodial parent, the court, or a state agency, the assignee has always viewed these orders as a voluntary act.

Voluntary Wage Assignment

Voluntary wage assignments do not require a court ruling because you voluntarily grant the creditor the authority to collect the funds when you sign for the loan, and you do have the choice to end a salary assignment whenever you like. However, giving permission for a lender to withhold money from your paycheck each month in order to repay a loan is a voluntary arrangement. Through this process, lenders can seize money from your paycheck without having to go to court.

Payday lenders frequently include voluntary wage assignments in their loan agreements to increase their chances of getting their payback. Without a court order, such a lender may start an assignment of wages. State laws on wage assignments differ from one another.

For instance, wage assignments are only good for a year and you need to renew them every year in West Virginia. The remaining 75% of an employee’s take-home pay, including their final paycheck, is exempt from creditors and creditors can only reduce it to 25%.

State law governs how quickly a wage assignment can occur and how much of your paycheck a lender can withhold. For instance, in Illinois, your lender cannot begin a wage assignment until you are at least 40 days delinquent on your loan payments. The law only permits your creditor to garnish 15% of your wages under Illinois law. After you sign the agreement, the wage assignment is valid for a maximum of three years.

Wage Assignment for Child Support

Wage assignment occurs when the court instructs an employer to withhold part of a worker’s paycheck for child support.

Additionally, as soon as the court issues an order for child support, the other parent must start paying it. The start date for the child support will be specified in the court order.

The court will mandate that a wage assignment be issued and served in every case where child support is ordered. The wage assignment instructs the employer of the person to make support payments to deduct those payments from their paycheck. 

There may be very serious repercussions for not paying your child support. A person who is ordered to pay support but willfully fails to do so may be found in contempt of court if the court determines that they have to do so. It is in the power of the court to order jail time for the person who is not paying child support.

The court orders the employer of the parent who is not in the custody of the child to collect the wage assignment.  

This parent is also the parent with visitation privileges or the non-custodial parent. 

In other words, the employer is to deduct a certain amount of money from the employee’s pay for child support payments.

Under state and federal law, employers are required to abide by these directives. If an employer disobeys a wage assignment order, they could be held in contempt of court. An employer who violates a court order may be subject to additional penalties and fines on top of the money owed under the order.

Wage Assignment Order

Couples can voluntarily enter into child support agreements in the majority of states. In a voluntary child support arrangement, the parents determine the sum that each will contribute. In contrast, the court determines the amount and imposes it on the parents in the case of involuntary child support. The court does honor agreements by parents to pay child support voluntarily. 

In some states, orders for wage assignment or garnishment may be suspended as long as payments are being made in accordance with the voluntary agreement. In these states, a parent’s failure to make payments “reactivates” the wage assignment order.

Understanding Wage Order

Except in very special circumstances, every child support order must comply with federal and state laws that mandate mandatory wage withholding. The paying parent must adhere to the specific requirements of the court in order for the wage assignment stay to be honored.

The paying parent is also responsible for continuing child support payments until the wage withholding order is actually served on the employer, which usually takes place after the court issues the order. The court’s decision to issue a wage withholding order does not relieve the paying parent of their personal responsibility to ensure that they make the necessary payments as the court directs.

A copy of the withholding order must be provided to the parent by the employer within ten days of receipt. The paying parent may submit a motion to the court to request the revocation of the withholding order. Such motions are rarely successful. Unless the court orders otherwise, the employer may deduct up to 50% of the employee’s pay. Most of the time, orders to withhold child support override the majority of other withholding orders.

When money is withheld from an employee’s check, the employer has 10 days to send it to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) if no motion is made. If the employer refuses to withhold or forward the money, they run the risk of being accused of contempt of court and subject to fines or jail time. Additionally, the employer may be personally liable for any unpaid child support, which would require the employer to make the payment out of pocket. As long as the paying parent works there, or until notice that the order to withhold is terminated has to be served on the paying parent’s employer, the employer must continue withholding.

How to Stop Wage Assignment

You have the option to revoke a voluntary wage assignment at any time. It takes a different legal process for a case of voluntary assignment than one of a court order. 

#1. For a Voluntary Wage Assignment

You can stop the wage assignment by sending a written notice to your employer and creditor if you don’t want the withholding to continue. Even though you will still owe money, the creditor will need to devise a new strategy to collect it.

#2. For a Wage Assignment as an Order or Wage Garnishment

Since this wage deduction is involuntary(court order), you can only stop it through a legal process. For a creditor, you can start by filing for bankruptcy or you can pay off the judgment. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to pay the judgment all at once, or you might have to let the garnishment expire.

Furthermore, it is the law of your state that determines the amount of income that you can ultimately keep under a wage garnishment.

According to federal law, a creditor can only garnish 25% of a debtor’s available income. State regulations might further restrict how much of your income creditors can take.

Conclusion

A wage assignment is an automated withdrawal plan that can be used to pay for various financial responsibilities, such as unpaid taxes, student loan debt that has defaulted, and both child and spousal support payments. And It’s easier to start or reverse when it is done voluntarily. 

Wages Assignment FAQs 

How do you revoke a wage assignment in Illinois?

Wage assignments are revocable at any time. You can do this by notifying the creditor in writing that you have revoked the assignment or by completing and returning the revocation notice form that is provided. You will remain liable for the debt.

Can you stop wage garnishment in Illinois?

In Illinois, there are generally only two ways to stop wage garnishments. You can first settle the judgment. Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to pay the judgment all at once, or you might have to let the garnishment expire. Another way is to file for bankruptcy.

What is a wage assignment in California?

This is a court order telling your employer to deduct a specific sum of money from your paycheck and send it straight to one of your creditors. A court-issued money judgment is typically required before a creditor can garnish your wages.

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