Dukes of Hazard Star’s Wages Garnished to Satisfy Unpaid Alimony

Hossein Berenji, May 13, 2019

Couples don’t always have the same earning power when they get divorced. In California, alimony can help to even things out and give the lesser-earning spouse an opportunity to transition to single life without worrying about their financial situation. What do you do when your spouse falls behind on spousal support payments?

This is precisely the dilemma Elly Castle, ex-wife of Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, currently faces. According to reports, Schneider hasn’t made alimony payments to Castle in quite some time. He even spent a few hours behind bars for failing to comply with the court order. Now she’s asking a court to step in once again. She’s seeking $600,000 in unpaid support.

In the past, Schneider hasn’t complied with his alimony requirements because he’s been out of work and short of cash. Now, however, he’s got a new gig on TV. Castle wants his wages from the show garnished so that she can get the spousal support she’s owed.

What is Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment simply means that your paycheck is diverted to offset debts you owe. Your employer receives a court order, which explains that some of your wages must be withheld from you. Those wages are then used to satisfy your debts, which can include child support and/or spousal support obligations.

Your boss has no choice but to comply with the order. Ignoring it can have serious consequences, including charges for contempt of court. It’s in their best interest to abide by the court’s instructions.

Wage Garnishment in Spousal Support Cases

Wage garnishment is often used to satisfy a spouse’s delinquent alimony obligations. In fact, this is typically how spousal support is typically paid. The initial support order simply requires that a fraction of the payor spouse’s wages are withheld every month. Those funds are then sent directly to the spouse receiving the award.

Limits on Wage Garnishment in California

While wages can be garnished to satisfy divorce-related financial obligations, a court won’t leave a payor spouse with nothing. There are limits on how much of a spouse’s income can be garnished every month. The amount ultimately depends on (a) the reason for garnishment, (b) the initial agreement, and (c) the payor spouse’s other debts and obligations.

Garnishment is calculated using a payor spouse’s disposable earnings. Disposable earnings are the amount of wages left over after taxes and other deductions have been taken out of a paycheck. Generally speaking, 25 percent of a spouse’s disposable income can be garnished to satisfy outstanding debts.

If child support or alimony is owed, courts will allow more of a spouse’s wages to be withheld. Between 50 and 65 percent of wages can be garnished to satisfy those family obligations.

Child Support Deducted Before Spousal Support

Wage garnishment can be used to satisfy both child support and alimony obligations. When a spouse has to pay both, child support payments will be deducted first. Payments to children are prioritized over payments to spouses. Any remaining funds are then deducted to cover alimony.