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What Rights Do I Have if My Wages are Being Garnished?

Experienced Attorney

What does it mean to have your wages garnished? The order to garnish — or deduct — from your wages money owed for reasons such as owed child support, back taxes, or student loan payments comes from a court order from a judge requiring your boss to deduct a specific amount of money from your paycheck to send to the institution or person you owe money to. The garnishment will continue until the money you owe is totally paid off. 

There are legal limitations on the amount of money that can be garnished from your paycheck. Each type of debt has their own set of rules as to how much can be taken from your paycheck. An attorney knowledgeable about wage garnishment regulations can answer specific questions you may have concerning garnishing your paycheck.

Will I Be Notified if My Wages are to be Garnished?

If your wages are garnished it is because you lost a lawsuit with a financial judgment. The person who sued you can get the money from you by giving the local marshal or sheriff a copy of the court order. The sheriff of marshal sends a copy of the order to your employer. You must be notified by your employer that your wages are going to be garnished and by how much. It is the employer’s responsibility to take the deducted wages and send them to your creditor. Your employer must also provide you with information on the steps you have to take if you wish to protest your wages being garnished.

Do People Need a Court Order to Garnish My Wages?

There are certain types of entities that do not need a court order to garnish your wages. These are:

  • The IRS for back taxes
  • Student loan originators
  • Child support

Other creditors are required to get a court order before they can garnish your wages. They have to bring a lawsuit against you, win that lawsuit, and then the court will issue the order mandating you pay your creditor the amount you owe.

How Much Can be Taken out of My Paycheck?

There is a limit to how much can be garnished from every check. The amount cannot be more than 25 percent of your disposable earnings, which is the amount left after any mandatory deductions. The amount for your state may differ, so to fully understand how much will be garnished, you may wish to contact a wage garnishment lawyer. 

Is the 25 Percent Negotiable?

You have to file documents with the court to request a hearing if you feel the garnishment amount is unrealistic. At that hearing you must show proof that you need more money in  your paycheck to make ends meet. The judge will determine whether or not to change the garnishment. 

Contact an Attorney

If your creditors are taking you to court to collect the debt you owe them, you need the assistance of an attorney that is experienced in wage garnishment cases. He or she will work with you and explain the process and what happens if your wages get garnished. 

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