Wage garnishment - What is it and how can you stop it?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/14/2007 - 20:01

If you're unable to pay your debts on time, your creditors or collection agency may file a lawsuit and win a judgment against you. Then, if wage garnishment is legal in your state, creditor or collection agency (CA) may have the judgment enforced through a wage garnishment. A wage garnishment is where the creditor or CA contacts your employer and requires him to withhold up to 25% of your wages to satisfy the judgment, depending on your state's law.

How can you stop wage garnishment?

Once a wage garnishment order has been granted, it is difficult to reverse it, but not impossible. If you can't manage to pay your basic living expenses while your wages are garnished, then you should collect a "Claim of Exemption" form from your local courthouse and file it with the court that issued the garnishment order. You should also request a court hearing and object to the garnishment to explain your situation in detail. On the day of the hearing, you'll need to show documents regarding your income and expenses so you can convince the judge that the garnishment will adversely affect your financial situation.

If you don't contest or fail to contest the garnishment, you can either pay off the judgment amount in full or negotiate a reduced payment with the court. If your state's garnishment law imposes a lower garnishment amount, then the court will follow the state law when imposing a garnishment order.

While your wages are garnished to satisfy the judgment, a lien is placed on your assets and property and it'll remain until you pay off the judgment amount. If you sell your property, the sale proceeds will be applied first toward the judgment and then toward any other debt.

In some states like Michigan, a garnishment order expires after 3 months. Therefore, a creditor or collection agency needs to obtain a new order for garnishment 3 months after the first order has been issued. This gives you some more time to work out a payment plan with your creditors/CA or challenge the amount being garnished.

What's the best way to avoid garnishment?

If you think your creditor or collection agency is taking steps to have your wages garnished, the best way to avoid it is offer a payment plan you can afford.

The best way to avoid a wage garnishment that you can't afford, after you've been served, is to answer the complaint within your state's time limit and appear in court on the appointed day. This way you will be able to present your case to the judge before the judgment is issued. You will also be able to present the judge with a statement of your finances that will help the judge determine how much the creditor or collection agency may garnish.

You can also try to negotiate with the creditor or collection agency before judgment is granted and get them to agree to an installment plan. Dealing with the creditor, collection agency, and the court before the judgment is granted is easier and more cost efficient than attempting to appeal one.

What if the IRS files wage garnishment?

If the IRS has a wage garnishment order issued against you, contact them within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Intent to Levy, and come to an arrangement with them to prevent your wages being garnished. You can try for any of the options stated below to stop wage garnishment being enforced on you:

  • Pay the debt in full: Here, you pay off the entire amount you owe including the interest and the penalties you've incurred. If you don't have enough funds, consider borrowing from your family or selling your assets to pay off your tax debt. If you don't find this option suitable, try settling your tax debt with the IRS.

  • Offer in Compromise to settle taxes: Under this agreement, the IRS agrees to accept a payment less than what you owe on your taxes.

  • Installment agreement: This is where you agree to pay off your tax debt in monthly installments over a 3 year period. If you owe $25,000 or less in taxes including your interest and penalties, you can apply for an installment agreement online. However, if your tax debt exceeds $25,000, you need to fill out a Collection Information Statement, Form 433F, and mail it to the address stated on your tax bill, along with the Request for Installment Agreement, Form 9465.
Ronald (not verified)

You will need to go to your local district courthouse and file the necessary papers to stop Wage garnishment. There is a nominal fee but it is fairly easy to do and can be done without an attorney.

Wed, 02/14/2007 - 20:11 Permalink

If the judgment states that your your wages are to be garnished you cannot really stop them from doing the needful. But there are three ways by which you can stop a garnishment.

1) Pay the full amount due within 10 days from the date of judgment. Pay it to the clerk's office who will give you a receipt which you need to give to your employer. Your garnishment can be stopped.
2) Make a written agreement with the one who sued you or their lawyer and try to agree onto an amount that will let you pay an affordable sum on a weekly or monthly basis. If both agree they can ask the clerk to make the agreement in writing to stop the garnishment.
3) File a Slow-Pay motion. you dont need a lawyer for this. Its a paper thats asks the judge to grant permission to make a slower payment which allows you to pay of other bills as well. But you need to get an OK from the judge to stop the garnishment.

Speak to the Court clerk's office they will help you out.

Sat, 11/24/2007 - 07:46 Permalink

What do you need guest? please expand on your question and we will see if someone can help you out. Look forward to seeing you back and hey, you shoud register on here and participate for encash points.,

Fri, 07/25/2008 - 03:10 Permalink
jonzbeach (not verified)

I have a wage garnishment for my credit card debt. Am I not supposed to be served with notice to appear before some obscure third party credit can come an garnish my wages?

Fri, 09/05/2008 - 23:31 Permalink

that depends on what the wage garnishment is for, if it is a tax garnishment, I have had them garnish my pay with no warning.

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 00:22 Permalink

Well my pay roll department sent me a letter about three days before it happened, with taxes or child support you can not stop this from happening.

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 02:42 Permalink

Figures. Well at least it will be over with once the last is paid. Did you ever hear anymore from that cigerette tax thing?

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 02:44 Permalink

Nope, I sent them a letter that said, show me all the bills in detail and have never heard from them. They did leave messages on my machine, but I made it very clear that I wanted it in writing so I did not pick up the phone or return their calls.

If you can not enforce it acros the board, then don't bother me. I have not heard from them in a long time.

Sat, 09/06/2008 - 03:26 Permalink

This is great. It was probaly something that could not be truly enforces, kind of like when a debt collector buys junk debt. I had heard at one time people saying once you sin=gned it or made a payment that was when they could go after you. So maybe it is best that you went the route you did.

Sun, 09/07/2008 - 01:37 Permalink

There are at least two methods of removing an IRS wage garnishment. One is to make an arrangement with the IRS. You can do this yourself through the use of an offer in compromise. Or, you can hire a tax attorney to negotiate an arrangement with the IRS on your behalf. Another method is to do a fair amount of research into your case, and others like it, to find instances where the IRS has violated proper procedure in their dealings with you.

Thu, 09/11/2008 - 02:27 Permalink

I have heard at different times that getting an atty is usually for the best when dealing with the IRS. Sometimes they can get the debt really cut down and like you said in your post mirage sometimes they find out the IRS handled things improperly and got it relieved all together.

Thu, 09/11/2008 - 16:56 Permalink

This all depends on how much the debt is, some attornies won't take it on unless it is a crazy amount like $10,000 or more. crazy huh

Sat, 09/13/2008 - 00:30 Permalink

Yes I seen those commercials.."if you are $10 000 in debt or more call us". I guess we should feel priveledged if we only owe $9998.

Sat, 09/13/2008 - 13:32 Permalink

If you want to survive wage garnishment, all that you need to do is to make the full payment of the debt within 10 days of the judgment date and produce the receipt to your employer. However, there are some states in US like PA, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas which do not allow wage garnishment. However, even in these states wage can be garnished for the recovery of federal tax debts. Moreover if you file bankruptcy, you may be exempted from wage garnishment. You can visit http://www.creditmagic.org/repair/about4181.html for more details on how filing bankruptcy can help you from wage garnishment

Fri, 10/17/2008 - 09:44 Permalink

As per the wage garnishment laws, the creditor can start garnishing your wages only after the local sheriff presents the garnishment order to your employer. However, as per the US Federal laws, there is a limit upto which your wage can be garnished and it varies from one state to another. If the maximum wage that can be garnished is 25%, then this 25% of your income shall be the maximum amount that can be deducted from your wage irrespective of the number of wage garnishment orders. The wage garnishment laws also protect you from being fired by your employer only because of the garnishment.

Fri, 10/17/2008 - 10:42 Permalink

As per the wage garnishment laws, garnishment is made on the net disposable income, i.e, your income after payment of Federal and other taxes. Most of the states in US allow upto a maximum of 25% of your disposable wage to be garnished. Before your wage is garnished, you will be provided with a wage withholding order by the employer with instruction for filing an exemption. You will also find the address of the clerk's office where the exemption needs to be filed. It is always advisable to file a claim for exemption as soon as possible as you will find a gap of about two months for hearing, within which you can settle the debt with the creditor and avoid wage garnishment.

Fri, 10/17/2008 - 10:57 Permalink

Thats funny...my brother has his wages garnished for child support and they take his income before taxes. I thought this was absurd since the amount they take for taxes is pretty high due to his being single. Then he still has med. pay, union dues and so on. At one point he wasn't even left enough to pay all his house bills.

Fri, 10/17/2008 - 11:39 Permalink
tanganyikaj (not verified)

what can i do to stop my wages from being garnished immediatley

Mon, 12/01/2008 - 18:12 Permalink

Hi Tanganyikaj
Your wage is being garnished, this means that a judgment to garnish your wage has been brought against you by your creditor or the collection agency as the case may be. Wage garnishment cannot be stopped until and unless you file a motion to vacate the judgment, but there is a fair chance of the motion to get rejected you actually owe the debt. So the best thing is to get in touch with your creditor and come to a settlement plan to repay off the debt and settle it outside the court. But you should get it in writing before you start making the payment.

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 04:01 Permalink

You should file a motion to vacate a judgment only when a default judgment has been passed against you either because you have not file a response to the summon or because you were not present on the court date. You need to file the motion in the same court which issued judgment against you. You need to file a motion with the court clerk and once you fill in the form you will get a court date where you will get a chance to defend yourself. But if your wage has been garnished and you were present on the court date but could not avoid the judgment, I don't think that there is any use in filing a motion to vacate the judgment. In such cases either you can make them agree to a one time payment on the outstanding debt and stop garnishment or your wage will continue to be garnished till the time the debt has been settled in full.

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 04:23 Permalink

Tanga...was there a court date for you to appear in court for this garnishment? Could you leave us some more information on this debt so thsat we may help you a little better?

Tue, 12/02/2008 - 14:08 Permalink
hopeful1 (not verified)

my wages are being detached for overpayment of food stamp benefits, I forgot to set up payment arrangements. Once they start taking from my check can I go back and try to set up a payment plan?

Sat, 01/10/2009 - 09:04 Permalink
jenny (not verified)

how do i find out what the garnishment againt me is about? i noticed they took my check but i dont know who did this.

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 02:07 Permalink

If there is a garnishment, there must have been a judgment against you and if it is so, you can find it in your credit report. Now, can you tell me whether there has been garnishment in your bank account garnishment in your wage, so that I can try to help you out.
You can also visit the court which has issued the garnishment order and get a copy of the judgment order from the clerk's office in the court.

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 06:42 Permalink

Yes, Mary is right because there cannot be garnishment until there is a court judgment against you. If you are not aware of the judgment, it means that there has been a default judgment against you for any of your past debts by the creditor. You should therefore visit the court as Mary said and pull out a copy of the judgment order. If you do not agree with the debt for which there is garnishment, you can file a motion to vacate the judgment.

Tue, 02/17/2009 - 06:49 Permalink
Ros (not verified)

my old landlord sued us claim damages he won the judgment know he wants to garnish wages from my husband paycheck what is the name of the paper work to file in court that will help us stop payment and help us make arrangement

Mon, 02/23/2009 - 16:18 Permalink

hey Speedreaper
According to the consumer credit protection act 1968 the minimum wages of garnishment is 25%. but it may not exceed then 25 %.the amount of pay to the garnishment is based on the consumer disposible earnings.So they garnish 25% of the disposible earning of employer.you can just check out there can be benefits for child support or any thing else.


Sun, 03/08/2009 - 06:24 Permalink

to reduce the percentage of garnishment you need to file the petition to the same court and you need to discuss this matter with the creditor.they will co-operate when you have paid a good sum after garnishment. :arrow:

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 05:02 Permalink

All the creditors taken together can garnish a maximum of 25% of your wage only if they bring judgment against you to do so. It is not possible to bring down the garnishment amount to less than 25% of you wage.

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 06:40 Permalink
MARISOL (not verified)


Wed, 04/01/2009 - 21:34 Permalink
rozz (not verified)

I am anticipating a wage garnishment and I was wondering, is there a way that I can pay a lower amount that what it would be and how do I go about doing it once it is done. Can I go into court when I am served or not

Fri, 04/03/2009 - 19:11 Permalink

I got completely taken by surprise on a garnishment, and once they took the money there was no way I could get it back. but yeah an attorney is probably best, but the IRS is a bear to deal with.

Mon, 04/06/2009 - 22:11 Permalink

If the creditor has already brought a judgment against you to garnish your wage, he can garnish a maximum of 25% of your wage, but not more than that. However, before the process of wage garnishment starts, you can talk to your creditor and pay him directly to avoid garnishment of your wage.

Wed, 04/08/2009 - 11:28 Permalink
Cheri (not verified)

I did not get an order for support until the end of Feb. 09. I have made my monthly payments, but they did not arrive on the first of the month as they wanted. My wages started to be garnished the third month. How can I stop this? Can I make arrangements for payments to be withdrawn from my bank account? Thank you

Thu, 04/23/2009 - 07:20 Permalink

Hi Cheri
If there has been a judgment to garnish your wage for child support obligations, then I don't think that it can be stopped. Can you please tell me for how long is your debt towards child support?

Fri, 04/24/2009 - 06:58 Permalink
brent (not verified)

can I stop a garnishment once they have started taken it out of my pay

Fri, 06/26/2009 - 23:42 Permalink

Hi brent,

Quitting the job can be a short term way to avoid garnishment of wages. If you join a new job, it will take some time for your creditor to find out your new employer. However, garnishment of wages will start once they are able to trace your employer. There are 2 other ways to stop wage garnishment permanently. They are as given below:

1) Pay off the debt- If you have enough cash available to pay off the debt, you can contact your creditor. You can request them to accept payments for the debt accounts. Even if you have ready cash to pay off at least a part of the debt, you can take the help of an attorney, who will negotiate with your creditor on your behalf.

2) Filing bankruptcy- Though filing for bankruptcy is the last option to get rid of debt, it can stop garnishment permanently. If you file for bankruptcy, you must inform your creditors about it in writing. However, the debt amount is not reduced by filing for bankruptcy. The debts will be resolved during bankruptcy.

Mon, 06/29/2009 - 06:38 Permalink
sussane (not verified)

how are debts resolved in bankruptcy?

Tue, 06/30/2009 - 09:10 Permalink
lionel (not verified)

after i filed a petiton chapter 7...how do i stop the wage garnishment myself..what procedure do i take

Wed, 09/23/2009 - 05:52 Permalink

Hi Sussane,

Debts are resolved in 2 ways in bankruptcy. If you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, then your assets are sold off by the creditor or lender to get the debt amount. Whereas, when you file a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can pay the debt through a repayment plan with the consent of the lender and the court. However, you will have to do this under the supervision of the court.

Wed, 09/23/2009 - 12:43 Permalink
ace (not verified)

will chapter 7 bankruptcy stop my wage garnishment from a creditor

Tue, 09/29/2009 - 22:03 Permalink

Hi ace

Yes, ideally a Chapter 7 should stop wage garnishment. If you file Chapter 7, it will immediately freeze any collection attempts including wage garnishment.

Wed, 09/30/2009 - 06:27 Permalink
Wdup (not verified)

I have a wage garnishment that im not sure when they're going to start deducting my pay, and i dont know for how long but they said they garnish 75% of my pay per week.. or up to 50 times the amount of minimum wage per hour. the maximum time for the garnishment that they're allowing for repay is 60 days or sooner.

I read from the earlier posts that its maximum 25% .. can someone explain to me why they're trying to take 75%.

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 18:01 Permalink

They will attempt anything that they can get away with, they depend on you or your payroll department not knowing the law. What state are you from, laws vary from state to state, so if you leave that information here then someone will come along and help you out according to your state laws.

Mon, 10/26/2009 - 00:25 Permalink
Wdup (not verified)

Nevada. I hear the most is 50% from NV. should I contact the lawyer that sent me the statement and see if I can do anything about it.. or am i having to file the judgment through the court to get it reduced or what not?

Mon, 10/26/2009 - 01:40 Permalink