What Are My Rights during Wage Garnishment?

If you have outstanding debts such as child support, student loans, back taxes or you have had a court judgment levied against you, it is possible for the courts to require your employer to withhold a portion of your wages in order to pay creditors.

Attorney and client discussing repayment plan

However, there are limits to this. For example, most wage garnishments can only happen after the creditor or entity you owe gets a court order. If you have defaulted on a loan or stopped paying a credit card, the entity you owe must sue you, win and get a court order requiring payment.

Creditors are only allowed to garnish a certain amount of money from your checks. The limit is whichever is lowest: 25 percent of your disposable earnings or the amount by which your pay exceeds 30 times the minimum wage.

If your debt is from child support, student loans or taxes, a court order is not required to garnish your wages. For child support, up to 50 percent of your wages can be garnished if you are currently supporting a child or spouse who is uninvolved in the order. If you are not, 60 percent can be taken. For defaulted student loans, the Department of Education can only take 15 percent of your disposable income and no more than 30 times minimum wage. With unpaid taxes, the amount varies based on dependents and your deduction rate.

If you are having trouble managing your debt and your wages are being garnished, speak to a financial law attorney to discuss options.

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