A wage garnishment is an order that requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your pay and send it directly to the creditor who issued the garnishment. For some debt, such as credit card payments or a doctor’s bill, a money judgement from a court is required. Other debt that does not require a money judgement is taxes, federal student loans, child support and alimony. Creditors have a statutory right to take money out of your paycheck. Creditors can get a court order to garnish your wages before getting a judgement, are about to move out of Washington state, if you have concealed yourself so that you cannot be served by the law or if you have or are about to remove any of your property from the state. Not all of your money can be seized by creditors and depending on your situation, there are limits.
The creditor will continue to garnish wages until the debt is paid off or you can claim an exemption with the court. Exemption laws determine the amount of income you can retain, and you may be able to partially or fully keep your income. Most creditors garnish the lesser of 25% of your weekly earnings, or your weekly disposable earnings less 35 times the federal minimum hourly wage. For student loan debt, garnishments are limited to the lesser of your weekly disposable earnings less 50 times the hourly wage of the minimum wage law and 15% of your weekly earnings.
There is a weekly exemption that is an amount based on the total of the taxpayer’s standard deduction and the aggregate amount of the deduction for personal exemptions. If you would like to protect to exempt your wages, you can file an exemption claim with the court and follow the procedures. Depending on the type of debt, most garnishments can be stopped by filing for bankruptcy.
Having an experienced attorney will give you a greater peace of mind than going it alone. Here at DAL Law Firm, Attorney Darcel Lobo can help you understand the limits on wage garnishments. You can reach our office at (206) 408-8158. We would be happy to assist you today!