If the debtor has a job, you may be able to grab up to 25% of his or her wages.
If you have won a court sagacity against person with a decent job, you may be able to intercept astir to 25 % of his or her wages to satisfy your judgment. This summons, permitted in about every state, is called a wage garnishment .
When You Can Garnish Wages
You can garnish wages relatively promptly and cheaply if :
- the debtor receives a regular wage (he or she isn’t self-employed)
- the debtor’s pay is above the poverty line
- other wage garnishments aren’t already in effect (unless your debt is for child or spousal support), and
- the debtor does not quit the job, contest the garnishment, or file for bankruptcy.
Whether You Should Garnish Wages
The terror of a engage garnishment is frequently a impregnable impulse for a debtor to make arrangements to pay off a judgment because many people want to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience of having their wage reduced.
besides, even though a federal jurisprudence bars an employer from firing an employee whose wages are garnished ascribable to a individual judgment, most employees believe that a garnishment wo n’t win them brownie points with their bosses. And the law does not bar an employer from firing an employee for multiple engage garnishments from different judgments ( although some state laws do prevent this ) .
however, a engage garnishment could produce the diametric effect of what you want — pushing a debtor to quit the job or, worse, charge for bankruptcy. If you choose to garnish wages, remember that you walk a ticket credit line between making capital advance on collecting your judgment and close off the hypothesis of collecting. Keep in mind, however, that if your debt is for child patronize, bankruptcy wo n’t wipe out the debtor ‘s obligation to pay you .
How to Garnish Wages
A wage garnishment requires small feat on your region. Procedures change by state and vicinity, but normally you give the sheriff or early local official ( called the “ recruit officer ” ) information about where the judgment debtor works. The levy military officer serves the garnishment regulate on the employer and the employer is required to withhold the proper measure of money ( which is specify, see below ) which then goes to you .
To find out more about the procedures in your area, visit your state ‘s Department of Labor web site .
Limits on Wage Garnishments
Under union law, you can not garnish more than :
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- 25% of the debtor’s disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory deductions),
- or the amount by which the debtor’s wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower.
If your judgment is for child or bridal confirm, you can garnish up to 50 % of the debtor ‘s take-home yield ( 55 % if the debtor is 12 or more weeks in arrears ). If the judgment debtor does not presently support a spouse or child, you can garnish up to 60 % of the wages ( 65 % if the debtor is 12 or more weeks in arrears ) .
Some states have even lower engage garnishment limits. If a department of state engage garnishment law results in a smaller garnishment, the department of state law must be followed. To find the garnishment rules in your state of matter, visit our Wage Garnishment subject page .
Additional Limitations and Obstacles
You face some extra limitations — or at least likely obstacles — in a few situations .
Debtor is already subject to another garnishment. You can not garnish wages if they are already being garnished by another creditor, unless ( 1 ) the first garnishment takes less than 25 % of the debtor ‘s disposable income ( or whatever the state specify is ), or ( 2 ) you have a sagacity for alimony or child patronize.
The debtor’s wages are “exempt.” Each state has a set of exemptions that protect certain types of property. ( To learn how this works, see When Exemptions Protect Wages From Garnishment. ) Most states offer a head of family or head of syndicate exemption. You may claim this exemption if you provide more than 50 % of the support for a child or other dependent. This exemption protects all of your wages unless you agree to a wage garnishment in write .
Debtor’s income is not wages. For the most contribution regular judgment creditors can not get a debtor ‘s social security, disability, retirement, child support, and alimony .
To learn more about collecting court judgments, see Everybody ‘s Guide to Small Claims Court, by Ralph Warner ( Nolo ) .