Garnishment law allows garnishing up to 50% of a worker's disposable income for these purposes if the worker supports another spouse or child, or up to 60% if the worker doesn't. An additional 5% can be garnished for support payments more than 12 weeks late. To assert that your salary is exempt from garnishment, you must immediately return to the creditor's attorney the “Notice of Request for Debtor Exemption” that came with the Notice of Intent to Garnish Profits. Or, the agency that sent the order will later send you a “Notice of Termination of the Wage Garnishment Order.” When the state and federal laws surrounding the wage garnishment conflict, the law falls on the side that is most favorable to the employee.
However, if you have multiple garnishments or a single creditor has garnished your salary for two or more debts, you are no longer protected from retaliation. For more information about wage garnishment limits for unpaid state and local taxes in your area, contact your state department of labor. If you owe a lot of money, don't panic; you can avoid a wage garnishment by working out a manageable payment plan with the people you owe money to (your creditors). Specifically, most must file a lawsuit and obtain a monetary judgment and court order before garnishing wages.
Remember that it's always best to address the problem early on and find a way to satisfy your creditors before a wage garnishment is issued as a last resort. Within two days of receiving the garnishment citation, the bank will send you a garnishment notice, instructions and two copies of an “exemption form.” Unless you owe child support, back taxes, or student loans, creditors require a court order to garnish your salary. To garnish your salary, creditors must sue you, win the case against you, and receive a court order to move forward with the garnishment process. You have some rights in the wage garnishment process, but in most states, it's your responsibility to know and exercise them.
As soon as you receive a notice or a wage garnishment order, it's essential to find out what you need to do to protect your income, especially if you have family members who depend on you. You can't be fired for having a wage garnishment, but you'll lose this protection if you incur more than one garnishment. If you do not return the exemption notice and bank statements to the creditor's lawyer within 10 days of receiving notice of your intention to garnish your salary, the creditor may start garnishing money from your salary and may continue to do so for up to 70 days. In general, if you have received government assistance out of necessity in the past six months, creditors cannot garnish your salary for two months after the date you last received the aid.