What Are Your Rights Regarding Wage Garnishments?
Creditors may garnish your wages if you owe certain types of debts, such as child support, court judgments, back taxes or student loans. In such an arrangement, a court may order your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and send it directly to your creditor until the debt is satisfied.
Garnishments for child support and alimony
Nationwide, all child support orders since 1988 include automatic wage garnishment orders. Once a court orders you to pay, either the court or the custodial parent sends a copy of your child support order to your employer, who then must withhold that amount and send it to the custodial parent.
In Virginia, courts follow the federal wage exemption. Garnishment cannot exceed the lesser of 25 percent of a worker’s disposable earnings for a week or the amount by which that person’s weekly disposable earnings exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage. Additional garnishment could occur if you fall more than 12 weeks behind on payments.
Garnishments for court judgments
If you lose a lawsuit and have to pay a settlement, the party who won the suit can obtain wage garnishments by providing a copy of the court order to law enforcement officials, who then send it to your employer. Your employer must notify you of the garnishment before beginning the withholding and must give you information about how you can protest the arrangement. Creditors must have a court order to begin garnishing wages in these circumstances.
Garnishments for student loans
The U.S. Department of Education may garnish up to 15 percent of your income if you have defaulted on your student loan payments. No court order is needed to begin this type of garnishment. However, for it to begin, you must receive written notification at least 30 days in advance of how much money you owe, how you can get a copy of the loan records, how you can create a repayment schedule, and how you can request a hearing.
To learn more about your options, consult with an attorney at Miller Law Group PC, working as a debt relief agency serving central Virginia.