Having your wages garnished is a very difficult thing. You work hard to pay your rent or mortgage, the utility bills keep going up, and sometimes you don’t even know if you are going to be able to put gas in your car. You have a family to support and living paycheck to paycheck, hand to mouth, is killing you. Then the unthinkable happens! Your employer starts taking money out of your paycheck. When you go to Human Resources, they tell you there is nothing that can be done because it is the law. You’ve suffered a severe cut in pay just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse! You have to know: what is a garnishment and what are your rights?
What a Garnishment Can Mean To YouWhat is a garnishment to you? It is a legal requirement your boss, or employer, take money you earned out of your paycheck and in many cases there is nothing your boss, or employer, can do. If they don’t take the money out of your check, they can be in legal trouble with the court that ordered your garnishment. Even though garnishment law varies from state to state, and court to court, what usually happens is as follows. You have been sued and have lost in court. A judgment has been entered against you in favor of the person that sued you. This person is usually called a plaintiff or a petitioner. The judgment can be for anything, and usually it is for anything from personal injury, child support, alimony, breach of contract, or even a defaulted lease or car payment. Even if the judgment is wrong, you have to legally pay it, so sometimes the court will order your boss, or employer, to take money out of your paycheck until the judgment is paid.
What You Can Do About A GarnishmentWhat Is Wage Garnishment?A garnishment usually starts in court. You are sued and lose, either by fighting in court and getting a judgment against you, or by not showing up in court and getting a default judgment against you. The judgment can be for child support, alimony, taxes, payments you didn’t make on your car, or your apartment or house mortgage, and a bunch of other things. This judgment is a legal debt you have to pay and sometimes you are forced to pay it through a garnishment. What is garnishment, exactly, is usually a court order that goes to your boss, or employer, and it says because you have been sued and owe money, you have to have money taken out of your paycheck until the whole judgment is paid. Usually your boss, or employer, can take between 25% and 60% of your hard earned money out of your paycheck.
Garnishment LawNow that we have answered the question what is a garnishment, we can talk about your rights. Federal Law gives you some rights so you don’t get everything taken out of your paycheck. The Consumer Credit Protection Act gives you the following rights, plus others:
- You can’t be fired because you have been garnished for “any one debt”
- You usually can’t have more than 25% of you disposable money taken out of your paycheck for ordinary debts
- You usually can’t have more than 50% to 60% of your disposable money taken out for child support, bankruptcy, or taxes