How Do You Prioritize Multiple Garnishments For The Same Employee?

Document created by 1002070 on Nov 5, 2015Last modified by 1002070 on Mar 10, 2017
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Pat Rountree.jpgCAI's Advice and Resolution team frequently receives questions about prioritizing garnishments when there are multiple garnishments for the same employee.  Garnishments are regulated by both state and federal laws.  Under North Carolina law, employers are permitted to garnish wages for court-ordered child support, alimony, tax garnishments, federally guaranteed student loan debt, by order of bankruptcy court, for recovery of fraudulent payments made to a recipient of a NC public assistance program (ex. unemployment) and payment of ambulance services in certain NC counties.


The following is the priority order to process multiple garnishments for the same employee.  The information, provided by Ogletree Deakins, will be included in the 2016 North Carolina Employers' Desk Manual.


Court Ordered Child Support


  • Court Ordered child support is top priority over any garnishment, levy or deduction.
  • When an obligor is subject to more than one withholding or child support, withholding for current child support shall have priority over past-due support.
  • Where two or more orders for current support  exist, each family shall receive a pro rata share of the total amount withheld based on the respective child support orders being enforced.


Employers are strongly urged to notify the appropriate Clerk of Court in writing of any attachments that cannot be completely satisfied.


All Other Garnishments or Levies (except federal tax levies - see below)


  • Process all other garnishments or levies only after all Court Ordered Child Support garnishments (above) are applied.
  • The priority of these garnishments is based on the order in which the garnishments/levies were received.    


Again, employers should notify the appropriate Clerk of Court or levying agency in writing of any attachments that cannot be completely satisfied.


Federal Tax Levies


  • Process Federal tax levies only after all other garnishments/levies (above) are applied.
  • Federal tax levies remains in effect until the IRS sends a release form.
  • The employee cannot apply for any new voluntary deductions until the levy is satisfied without the prior written approval of the IRS.
  • Child support court orders received after the date of the levy must be paid and the IRS must be notified of such utilizing the appropriate IRS forms.  Employers are also encouraged to notify the issuing court clerk as well when possible. 


Review the CAI The specified item was not found.for information on the limitations and the maximums that may be garnished as well as allowable administrative processing fees. If you have any questions on handling a garnishment please call any of us on the Advice and Resolution team.

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