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.

Have you contacted the company and requested that they stop, they may have it on some automatic payment method and not know that it is still coming out.

If this is a payroll garnishment, then you need to contact your payroll department too and ask them what you should do, they may have ran into this before.

If all else fails, contact your state attorney generals office and request that they get involved to help you resolve this.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 11:45 Permalink
Brenda (not verified)

How can I stop a wage garnishement for defaulted student loans?

Mon, 12/14/2009 - 16:12 Permalink
precious (not verified)

I live in CA The state of MO garnished my check without any notice what do i do. is there help..

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 20:18 Permalink
Dave (not verified)

Is there any way I can reduce the amount of my garnishment for late charges that occured during the time I was ill and could not payment due on time. This amounts to abount 1300.00 that was attached to the orignal balance due.

Sat, 07/17/2010 - 18:46 Permalink
James Ed (not verified)

I could really use some help writing a sympathy letter stating the need to release my bank account from garnishment. I have sense started repaying my HOA fees to my association but the garnishment went through anyway. This puts me and my family at odds becasue all my resources are tied up through my bank. Please help ASAP



Thu, 07/22/2010 - 20:40 Permalink

Can you stop your deposits from going into that account and get a paper check, then you would at least have money to live on until you get it all straightened out.

Hang out, I am sure that others will come along and help you out with your problem. Goodluck hope you get it all cleared up.

Thu, 07/22/2010 - 23:36 Permalink
Joe56 (not verified)

My 23 year old son defaulted on a loan. He apparently forged my signature as the co-signer. He had been notified about late or no payments but intercepted the mail and I never knew he had not paid. As a result my wages have been garnished. Is there anything I can do? I obviously don't want my son getting in trouble but the "black mark" that goes along with garnishment is killing me. I am 54 years old and have never been late with any payment.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 17:39 Permalink
Joe56 (not verified)

My 23 year old son defaulted on a loan. He apparently forged my signature as the co-signer. He had been notified about late or no payments but intercepted the mail and I never knew he had not paid. As a result my wages have been garnished. Is there anything I can do? I obviously don't want my son getting in trouble but the "black mark" that goes along with garnishment is killing me. I am 54 years old and have never been late with any payment.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 17:40 Permalink
Joe56 (not verified)

My 23 year old son defaulted on a loan. He apparently forged my signature as the co-signer. He had been notified about late or no payments but intercepted the mail and I never knew he had not paid. As a result my wages have been garnished. Is there anything I can do? I obviously don't want my son getting in trouble but the "black mark" that goes along with garnishment is killing me. I am 54 years old and have never been late with any payment.

Tue, 09/21/2010 - 17:40 Permalink

Hi Joe,

You need to negotiate a payment plan with the creditor for stopping this garnishment. However, it won't be possible to remove the judgment from your credit report. I think you should talk to your son too, about this debt.



Wed, 09/22/2010 - 11:42 Permalink
L.C. FOWLER (not verified)


Sat, 09/25/2010 - 21:14 Permalink
Tamika (not verified)

can they garnish my wages, I wasnt served with any notification?

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:42 Permalink

do you have all your credit reports?
what state are you in?
what is the original creditor and the name of the CA?
what is the date of first delinquency? 30 days after last payment

Defaulting on restitution is a violation of probation. how did they let you off supervision while you owe money? and if you are still on supervision then I would start worrying about jail.

Sun, 09/26/2010 - 15:32 Permalink


I think you need to discuss this with an attorney. This is criminal case and quite complex.


If you didn't receive a notification, you can file a motion to vacate the judgment within 180 days of your discovery of the judgment.



Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:04 Permalink
Lisa (not verified)

I had a collection agency garnish my wages based on court order. They garnished my wages for six months. I have been making monthly payment to them for over a year now to stop another garnishment. Can they start the garnishment again without going to court if I stop paying? They send me no monthly statement, so I only know by calling what my balance is and it doesn't seem to be going down. It happened when I lived in the State of VA, I live in MD now and the amount was about $3,500 and over 8 years ago.

Fri, 10/22/2010 - 18:55 Permalink
Becky (not verified)

If I go to could with my receipts proving that I don't have enough disposable income to pay off debt. Does the judge actually look over the papers and take them into consideration.

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 07:12 Permalink
shamaron041979… (not verified)

I received a letter from a law firm telling me that I need to get with them because they found out that my wages were about to be garnished. This is the first time of me hearing anything about me getting my wages garnished. I haven't heard or gotten anything in the mail from the company that's trying to garnish my wages. and it's been a couple of years since I heard anything from them. What should I do

Sun, 11/07/2010 - 03:24 Permalink
fire.fly (not verified)

I have recently become a single mother of three. My financial situation is very tight. I was given an order of garnishment because my student loans went into default. I have tried to negotiate a payment plan with the collection agency yet they are still asking me to pay way above what I can afford. If I don't make the monthly payment they are asking me to make they will go ahead with the garnishment. Is there anything I can do?

Thu, 01/27/2011 - 23:59 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

can they garnish my wages before a court hearing

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 18:24 Permalink
Mel (not verified)

I have wage garnishment in place that is court ordered. what can I do to get help with this. It is hurting me financially..?

Thu, 03/03/2011 - 19:04 Permalink
thissucks2bad (not verified)

i owed a credit card company money and it went to court through an attorney and the judgement went to them. now i have gotten a tax garnishment form from the court can they really take all our tax money. the credit card is in my name only

Mon, 03/14/2011 - 01:21 Permalink
arline (not verified)

what monies in NYS cannot be tagen by a Judgement,
is it=SSI, Social Security, VA check, child support, unemployment insurnce check???? and can a NYS judgement take my fed & state returns. How much can they take from my paycheck a week.


Tue, 03/22/2011 - 22:25 Permalink
KQWIK (not verified)

I am not employed and job benefits ceased Dec 22, 2010 with last payment issued 1/4/2011. An order to attach/collect tax refund issued in 2010, however, the tax refund info was issued 2/25/2011 to the creditor/student loan agent. I have a hardship now that I am unemployed, and it seems that the creditor does not wish to negotiate the tax refund. There was a writ of garnishment during the time I was employed, however, I am now unemployed. They refuse to rehabilitate the student loan and it seems like they are using the default loan status to maintain matters to their advantage with regards to keeping the tax refund. I have written letters requesting for the loan to be rehabilitated and they instead want information (to collect). I refused to give information because I am unemployed. What can i do here?

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 03:51 Permalink
dense (not verified)

what is law concerning garnishment of wages in Florida

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 21:31 Permalink
susie (not verified)

after a judgement was granted i was given a due date to pay in full. i called the law offices to propose a payment plan. i was declined . i was told that garnishment papers where received at my job site/ mailed to me at the same time. what are my options

Wed, 04/06/2011 - 12:35 Permalink
Mr.Yang (not verified)

my wages is being garnishment more then it is suppose to. i have sent information to them proving that they are not suppose to take any money from me but they still did. what can i do?

Fri, 04/08/2011 - 12:32 Permalink
Ken Loyd (not verified)

Hello, i am a former Maryland resident that now is a permanent Florida resident and have been since September of 2010 and i had a writ of garnishment filed against me in a Maryland court in January of 2011. Can a garnishment be filed or enforced against me from another court in another state when i am an established resident of a different state?

Tue, 05/03/2011 - 20:24 Permalink
crystalle (not verified)

i had awage garnishment judgement wasmade and i was unaware ofthe court date. i contacted the court clerk who filed to stop the garnishment and give me another court date, stupidly when i got tocourt the creditor attorney took me outside and discussed the debt he told me that payment arrangement couldbe made and presented before the judge but they could not except no less than 150.00 a month he was persistent even after i explained my finacial sit. so i agreed the judge granted. i was unable to make the payments. i am the onlyincome with 4 children . can i stop it now or can i file slow-pay what can i do they are taking 700.00 amonth out of my check.

Wed, 05/04/2011 - 18:54 Permalink
Julie A (not verified)

Am I supposed to go to court before a garnishment on my wages can start..? I only got one letter (writ of garnishment) and now they want to garnish my wages for an unpaid medical bill. I will lose my home if they take all of this income away from me. I'm a single mom of 3 and on food-stamps! How is this possible? ANY help would be sincerely appreciated..

Sat, 05/21/2011 - 17:24 Permalink
ladydi617 (not verified)

I have recieved a notice stating the state is garnishing my wages for the year 2007. I did not work at all that year or did I collect any unemployment etc.....I do not understand how they can say I owe them x amount when I did not even work or earn any money.

Mon, 05/30/2011 - 21:12 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If 25 percent of my check is being garhins how much do they take every two weeks

Wed, 06/01/2011 - 08:19 Permalink
Rob (not verified)

I have been divorced for over 5 years now,I agreed to pay her at that time $100.000 and a judgement was placed against me .now this was over five years ago....The other day a prossesser came to my place of employment trying to serve me papers for wage garnishment or maybe to appear in court on a certain date for wage garnishment. is there a statue of limitations on a judgement that was an agreement that was between my ex and me and written up by our lawyers?also are all judgements the same ,can all types of judgements be enforced by garnishing ones wages ?Is there anything i can do to stop this or am i stuck with this judgement ?please help if you can ...

Mon, 06/06/2011 - 17:08 Permalink
JAllen (not verified)

I am now head of household, and I heard my garnishment can be reduce from 25% to 10%. How do I file this in court and what forms do I use to file this motion and/or letter. How do I go about this?

Fri, 06/10/2011 - 04:33 Permalink
gracee (not verified)

I found out today that after my garnishment is over, I have paid $17,572.95.
The sheriff's department told me after that I will owe them $11,000
in interest. If I can't pay it off all at once, there will be $2.00 plus change added on to that amount each day.
Please help me to find out what I can do.

Fri, 07/29/2011 - 20:23 Permalink
Rosanne Walker (not verified)

I live in Fl just went to court as I filed a defendants claim of exemption for a garnishment due to a vehicle repo. The judge granted me the exemption, my question is is this over for good or can they come back in the future again??

Sun, 08/07/2011 - 16:05 Permalink
Deborah (not verified)

If I have gotten garnished with half of my income and the company told me they didnt ask for that amount from the company what should I do

Tue, 08/09/2011 - 15:19 Permalink
angela m (not verified)

Hello carol i recently had a judgement against me for a hospital bill that i owe for 12,000. I went to scourt to let th creditors attorney know i couldnt pay that entire bill at one time and told them i could only pay 50 per mnth they did not agree to it saying it would take me to long to pay off. I signed an agreement saying i would pay 100 dollars per mnt but i have not made the payment because i cant. Will they be garnishing my wages now?

Wed, 08/10/2011 - 00:36 Permalink
Joel (not verified)

I left employment Sept 2010 due to disability. I have filed for SSDI and Federal Disability Retirement (former Fed Emp). I have explained my situation to my creditors. My income was 70% of TDI. I am drawing out of my IRA just enough to pay mort. & groc. No money left over for Credit cards. However, they want stop. I have wrote ltr req. VALIDATION of amt claimed. Yhe did not reply as requested. Thier reply did not conform to my request which followed 15 USC 1692g Sec. 809 (b). Amount of debt exceeds 50k. I will never be able to pay this off even if they reduce my pmt. The amt they want per/mo is over $600. That 25% of my estimated gross disability. What do I do now?

Sat, 08/13/2011 - 01:06 Permalink
Walter Ramsey (not verified)

I have not paid my ex-wife alimony for three years. However I was paying the mortgage and maintenance for the condominium for the last three years.

I have recently stopped paying maintenance and mortgage. My ex-wife has told me that she will come after me for alimony now after three years of not coming after me. What can see do if anything

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 02:05 Permalink
diamond (not verified)

court date sept 14 talk to lawyer that taking me to court told me call after the 14th i was not going to court should i go they nsent me garnishment papers

Wed, 08/24/2011 - 04:49 Permalink
Stosh (not verified)

My wages are being garnished right now and I have a 2 year old and a baby at home. The only reason our bills weren't being paid was because we joined a debt program that was a fraud, and instead of paying our creditors with the money we were sending them, they were taking it for their fees, thus our creditors didn't get paid and i got sued. We barely have enough to pay for all of our stuff the way it is and now that they are taking $600 a month I really won't be able to pay...am I just suppose to stop paying my car and house payment now because they are taking my money!? What do I do?

Wed, 08/31/2011 - 23:05 Permalink
yuen (not verified)

I am already sign up with the consolidate program years ago and one of my legal account finally broke through the court and I received the wage garnishment letter the other day?
Is there any way that I can settle with the creditor and stop my wages being garnish?
And how can I do so? Thanks for the help. yuen

Fri, 09/02/2011 - 17:33 Permalink
Carrie (not verified)

I am currently have my wages garnished through a court order. I now have the money to pay off this debt in full and want to do so. Do I have to go to court to pay this off and stop the wage garnishment. If I send a money order for the full pay off amount will they stop taking the money out of my paychecks? Basically, I would rather not have to hire an attorney or have to go to court to get this to stop since I am able to pay this debt off. Thank you!

Fri, 09/02/2011 - 19:06 Permalink
martha (not verified)


i would like to know if i have a garnishnee order against my salary and it has started to have been deducted , and the amount that they want to garnishnee is too high , can i contact the lawyer to make a reduction in the garnishnee.
currently i have a garnishnee order and i ahev spoken to my HR and we spoke to the lawyers and they asked us to send them a letter as to how much i can afford to pay and i told my HR and they then sent us back a reply with a faxed letter that it can be reduced and the amount that i can afford is acceptable. but i ahve noticed that for the past 2 months now my company is still dedusting the whole amount and not the amount that was acceptable and when i approached them about it they told me that i need to go to court and they have to grant that, but then i contacted the lawyers abck and they told me that i didnt have to do that and that the letter that they sent through for the reduction was quiet acceptable.

please can you advise me further as to what i need to do coz currently now im in such a financial suitation that i want to end my life coz how do i live when i am a widow and i only earn a salary of R5000 and with half my salary being garnished how i live.

i need to know if i can coherce wit the lawyer to reduce the amounts for the garnishnee before my pay day.

another thing is they did not even contact me to make suitable arrangements to ask me what can i afford to pay and sent no correspondence nothing and then they do a garnishnee.

please tell me what to do coz im so stressed and i have a 4 year old son to take care of, im a single mom, i cant live like this.

please can you let me know as a.s.a.p as to waht can i do before my company start deducting the money.

thanks ..

martha chetty

Mon, 09/05/2011 - 12:31 Permalink
Tericka (not verified)

I recieved a letter about a pending wage garnishment on a Tuesday, I calle the garnishment officce and told them to expect a release from the irs that day! I called the irs and was granted a release and was told it had been faxed to the garnishment company that day (tuesday). The irs rep said the guarentee a 24 hour turn around and the release should be cleared and no granishment should occur. However my pay check just came thru ( friday) and nearly all of it was taken along with my bonus? Can I get this returned? I have to pay rent and other bills and have nearly 1/4 of what I need to pay them. Is there anything I can do to get this returned? I will be calling the garnishment company at 5 am and the irs at 7 am. What are my chances of getting this money back?

Fri, 09/09/2011 - 06:32 Permalink
kim stockwell (not verified)

After 8 years of trying to come to agreed payment amount and at least 6 different collection persons later a new person in collections for the State Board of Equalization in California ( this is for sales tax on old debt dated 2003 from 2 businesses we had in San Francisco ), has garnished my wages. I get in my pocket, $362.00 every two weeks. I work full time at Walgreen's and make 8.71 an hour and have a 14 year old daughter and 300.00 a month in child support. My separated husband ( no divorce ) in San Francisco has said he filed bankcrupcy about 9 months ago now and said the garnishment of both of us will come off. That was 9 months ago. To my understanding- sales tax can not be included in a bandcrupcy. I am in Michigan and have been for the last 4 years. Should I find my own lawyer here and what type of lawyer should I hire? The debt is 18000.00. It was originally 4,000.00 and my husband had the money to pay them in 2005 when both businesses closed but he kept the money and no one seems to think that is somehow illegal or that he should be the only person responsible for this awful debt!! Help! I have talked to Legal Aid in Michigan. They can offer no help to me. They gave me names of free services in San Francisco. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance. Have a good day!

Sat, 09/10/2011 - 23:14 Permalink
gloria (not verified)

Hi Carol

My Question is: I am filing an answer to complaint on civil suit
brought by creditor requesting statement of pmts made to confirm balance owed in civil suit I am disputing the balance stated
in the civil suit

What time frame does the plaintiff's atty have to provide
proof of balance owed on my request? I am considering filing
Bk#7 to stop any garnishment to my wages before request for
garnishment is made. Should I lose the Judgement -what is length of time between atty send requests to company H/R seeking garnishment of wages. Also when I file my answer should
I also pick up request for exemption on garnishment?

Thank you very much for you answer and time.

Tue, 09/13/2011 - 04:14 Permalink