Wage Garnishments

A wage garnishment is a legal procedural that allows the judgment-creditor to garnish the wages of the judgment-debtor (employee).

After a judgment-creditor has obtained a “writ of execution” from the judge, the judgment-creditor is free to take all legal steps allowed to him under the law to collect on the judgment. To learn more about how a judgment-creditor obtains a writ of execution, refer to the Creditor Lawsuit section of this website. For information on how the judgment-creditor can access other assets from the debtor, refer to the Bank Levy section of this website. And to learn ways to prevent or limit collection of the debt, refer to the following sections—Claim of Exemption form, Bankruptcy and Insolvency.

If an employer is served with a Writ of Execution to garnish wages, then the employer has no choice, but to comply. That’s the law. If the employer fails to comply, then the employer risks incurring financial liability as well. Wage garnishments are serious tools in the judgment-creditor’s arsenal. Luckily, there are ways to prevent a judgment-creditor from getting a penny of the debtor’s wages.

Most individuals who receive notice that their wages are going to be garnished, begin by panicking. Usually, their next thought afterwards is to consider filing for bankruptcy—as the mere thought of losing any of their hard-earned wages is frightening and overwhelming to them.

First, it is important to know that a creditor can only garnish no more than 25% of the employee/judgment-debtor’s discretionary income. Usually this means no more than 25% of their take-home pay. Not 25% of their gross income. This is a very important distinction.

For most individuals these days, the take-home pay barely covers the employee’s and his family’s basic necessities. In other words, after paying rent, groceries, transportation, and child-care, etc., there is nothing left over. The law states that payment of necessities of life are considered basic needs and are therefore exempt (protected) from being touched by judgment-creditors. So, if all take-home pay goes towards paying for basic necessities, then there is no “discretionary” income left over from which to pay creditors. In other words, 25% of zero, is zero!

To protect exempt funds, it is important that the employee/judgment-debtor file a timely Claim of Exemption form.

On a final note, time is of the essence once the wage-garnishment order has been served on the employer. The employee/judgment-debtor must act swiftly if he is to prevent the judgment-creditor from touching any of his wages

How can Ms. Garrett help?

Ms. Garrett is able to assist individuals facing garnishment of their wages by providing coaching services in connection with the preparation of a Claim of Exemption form. Coaching includes identifying common mistakes made by judgment-debtors when filling out the form; as well as explaining the various procedures and deadlines in connection with the preparing and submission of a claim of exemption form to include, but not limited to, identifying red-flag expenses, raising possible objections by the judgment-creditor, responding to a “Notice of Opposition to Claim of Exemption”, preparing for an Examiner’s Hearing—in the remote chance a judgment-creditor schedules one with the court.

If you wish to set up a consultation, Contact Ms. Garrett.

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