A garnishment is the legal process for collecting a monetary judgment on behalf of a plaintiff from a defendant. Garnishments allow the plaintiff, or the “garnishor”, to take money or property from the debtor in order to satisfy a debt. The most common type of garnishment is a wage garnishment, which is the process of deducting money from an employee’s monetary compensation, usually as a result of a court order. Wage garnishments can continue until the entire debt is paid or arrangements are made to pay off the debt. Wage garnishments can occur when you owe child support, student loans, back taxes, or a court judgment has been entered against you. The court then issues an order requiring your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck in order to pay the person or organization owned.

Wage Garnishments for Back Taxes, Child support, and Alimony

Typically, a creditor needs a court order to obtain a wage garnishment, but there are a few exceptions. Theses exceptions include child support, alimony, back taxes owed to the IRS, and federal student loans. All child support orders include an automotive wage withholding order. Alimony, if included in the same family support order, will be deducted as well.  But if the alimony order is separate, the alimony order usually won’t include the automatic wage withholding. With regard to student loans, the U.S. Department of Education can garnish up to 15% of your wages without a court order if you default on a payment. Additionally, the IRS has the power to garnish a large majority of your wages in order to pay back taxes. The total amount the IRS can garnish from your wages depends on how many dependents you have and your standard deduction amount.

Avoiding Wage Garnishments

Avoiding wage garnishments begins with working to stay current on all your payments, and when unable to do so, staying in contact with your creditors. The process of obtaining a wage garnishment involves a considerable amount of time, effort, and court appearances, so most creditors won’t want to go through the process if they can work a payment schedule out with you directly. Because the judgment creditor must file papers in order to obtain a wage garnishment, you will also be delivered written notice and have the right to a hearing before the garnishment begins. One way to avoid wage garnishments is to file a written objection to the wage garnishment. In most circumstances, the notice papers will include instructions on how to object, but if they don’t you can contact a local bankruptcy lawyer or the clerk of the court to get this information.

The amount that any creditor can garnish from your paycheck depends on the type of debt, as well as, the state laws in which you live. If your wages are currently being garnished, filing bankruptcy can help and it would be highly advisable to contact your Citrus Heights bankruptcy attorney in order to find out your options.