Knell v. Knell (Wyoming 2019)
The federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) limits the amount that can be garnished from a person’s disposable income. A child support order meets the CCPA definition of a garnishment. The parents in this case divorced, and the order set support and entered a judgment against the father for the amount agreed to in the property settlement. The father paid support through a voluntary deduction from his paycheck, so no income withholding order was entered. Several year later, the mother filed to garnish his wages for the property settlement judgment. The father objected. He argued that his wages were already being garnished for child support and allowing any additional garnishment would violate the limits set by the CCPA. The district court approved the garnishment, and the father appealed. The Supreme Court reversed, finding that a child support order is a garnishment for purposes the CCPA. It doesn’t matter if it is being paid voluntarily. It found to hold otherwise would defeat the purpose of the CCPA, which is to ensure people are able to support themselves. Wyoming statute gives priority to child support garnishments. Since the father’s income was already being garnished at 42% for child support, there was no room for an additional garnishment.