How does Garnishment Work? How Much Can They Take, and for How Long?

How Does Wage Garnishment Work and Who Can Garnish My Wages?

Essentially, a wage garnishment is a way for a creditor to collect on the debt you owe by extracting it directly from your paycheck. The creditor must first get a court order called a “judgment” before it can garnish your wages. You will receive notice of the pending garnishment before it takes place. Unless you are able to pay back the debt before the garnishment, or work out some other arrangement with the creditor, you will not be able to stop the garnishment unless you file for bankruptcy.

Any creditor can attempt to garnish your wages, as long as they go through the proper legal process. The government commonly uses wage garnishment to collect on debts such as child support, or back taxes. Other creditors will often pursue a garnishment if they feel the debt is large enough to make it worth their time and expense. Garnishments often result from money owed on credit cards, auto loans, medical bills, and other secured and unsecured debts.

How Much Money Can They Take, and for How Long?

The thought of your creditor being able to withdraw money from each and every one of your paychecks can be frightening. Luckily, there is a cap on how much money your creditor can take when it garnishes your wages. The percentage varies, depending upon the state in which you live. The bad news is, usually they are allowed to take a significant chunk of your paycheck; usually around 25% of your net pay.

As soon as they are allowed by the court, your creditor will contact your payroll department and have them start garnishing your wages, beginning with your next paycheck. They will continue to garnish your wages at the maximum amount to which they are allowed until they are paid in full. You may go years before you see a full paycheck again, all depending on how much you owe.

You can contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney at Meyer Law for a free consultation. We have six convenient locations in Arizona: Phoenix, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, and Mesa.