Having your wages garnished can be an extremely upsetting experience. Not only are your wages potentially cut by 25–50 percent, you may possibly receive only $170 of your net earnings in a week. That is how little they can leave you with to live on, according to the law.

Wage garnishment occurs when an employer withholds the earnings of an individual for the payment of a debt as the result of a court order or other equitable procedure. The employer is required to send the portion of your check to your creditor.

Wage garnishment is usually the last resort of any creditor. There are different rules for different scenarios and none of them are easy on the debtor. It is in your best interest to take care of your debts before it reaches this stage! You don’t want to receive your paycheck one week and be shocked at how much smaller it is. Let alone, try to figure out how you can manage on so little money! Garnishments require a court order and employers are required to notify workers about the garnishment before it goes into effect so you will know it’s going to happen.

There is also the embarrassment of your employer knowing an aspect of your life you would rather not share.

The Title III Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) prohibits an employer from discharging an employee because his or her earnings have been subject to garnishment for any one debt, regardless of the number of levies made or proceedings brought to collect it. Title III does not, however, protect an employee from discharge if the employee's earnings have been subject to garnishment for a second or subsequent debt.

Although the employer is prohibited from taking negative actions against you, there may be the risk that this action could affect how your employer views your credit status and it could affect raises and promotions.

Wage Withholding

  • Wage withholding is the amount that you have been ordered by the court to pay each month.

Wage Garnishment:

  • Wage garnishment is a percentage of your earnings that can exceed the amount that has
    been set by the court.

A worker who nets $500 a week could possibly face a garnishment of $125 (which is 25%).

Or another scenerio is Title III cuts off the amount that an employee can be left to live on at $170.00. That means that $330.00 would go to the creditors each week.

If your facing garnishment for back taxes, it’s best to talk with the IRS and ask if there is any way you can negotiate a voluntary payment plan. Make sure you can afford these payments. If you fail to stick to this plan you can be sure to have garnished wages in your future.

If you already have your wages garnished, for whatever reason, you may be able to lower the amount taken. You could make the case that you are left with too little to live on, especially if you have dependents living with you. Have copies of all your receipts and bills available and be able to show that what you are saying is true.

All cases will differ and some things do take precedence over others. For example, if your asking to have the amount lowered so that you can purchase new clothing for your sales job, that would not work, especially if your being garnished for back child support. There are some things which don’t figure into the equation when calculating how much to garnish; union dues, health and life insurance, contributions to a charitable cause, purchasing savings bonds, and payments made to employers for advancements or
purchases of merchandise.

Possible Steps towards Garnishment:

  • Creditor pursues payment through a collection agency and is unsuccessful
  • Creditor files a “complaint” with the court
  • Court issues a summons, usually delivered to the debtor by the sheriff or a deputy
  • Debtor has 20 days to respond to the summons
    (if you do not respond)
  • Creditor will apply for a default judgment and it will be noted in the court record
    of your local county
  • If the amount is for a sum which can be proven, the creditor could ask to obtain a
    judgment without a hearing
  • After judgment is obtained creditor makes a demand for payment of the judgment
  • If payment is still not received, creditor takes judgment to court
  • The court will issue a “Writ of Garnishment” which the creditor will deliver to your employer
  • The creditor gets a continuing lien on your wages