Limitations on Wage Garnishments

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Occasionally a creditor will obtain a judgment against their debtor, which allows the creditor to place a lien on the debtor’s work wages.  The creditor will then garnish, or seize, part of the debtor’s wages in order to pay the debt.  Debtors do have rights though, and there are limitations on the amount that can be garnished, as well as the type of income that can be garnished.  It is also illegal for an employer to discharge an employee because the employee’s wages are being garnished, regardless of the amount of the lien.

Amount of Garnishment

Federal law limits the amount of income that can be garnished to less than twenty-five percent of the employee’s disposable earnings (after-tax earnings), or the federal minimum hourly wage multiplied by 30.  The smaller of these two figures is the limit that a creditor can garnish.  In the case of child support liens, up to fifty percent of the debtor’s disposable earnings may be garnished.

Income that Creditors Cannot Garnish 

Creditor Violations of Debtor Rights

Violations of debtor rights by creditors can result in the reinstatement of garnished wages, and even criminal prosecution with potential for imprisonment and fines.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

If you believe that a creditor has violated your rights an attorney can advise you on whether you have a claim and help you protect your assets. 

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Last Modified: 03-28-2012 03:24 PM PDT

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