Wage Garnishment: The Brief, and Legal Reality of It‌

With a wage garnishment, your employer must withhold a part of your disposable income to settle a debt. Due to unpaid child support, back taxes, outstanding federal student loans, and credit card debt your earnings may be taken.

One of the biggest sources of worry might be the possibility of wage garnishment. The amount deducted from your pay may vary according to the kind of debt you have, your house, and if you choose to appeal the judgment.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work?

If you haven’t been able to pay back a loan, your creditor may elect to negotiate a wage garnishment settlement with your employer. A wage garnishment lawyer could help you negotiate the wage garnishment with your employer. This implies that your employer will be compelled to deduct from your salary and send a part of it to your creditor.

Disposable income is the money that is still in your paycheck after taxes and Social Security have been made.

While some wage garnishments in NC are not court-ordered, the majority are. To get a garnishment order against you if you have consumer debt, your lender or creditor must first take you to court. There is no need for a lawsuit or a court order to collect on some debts, such as federal student loan debt and child support debt.

Federal law prohibits creditors from taking more than 25% of your net income after required deductions, or, if that number is less, the amount by which your weekly earnings are more than the minimum wage (which is currently set at $30). Under state law, a debtor can be given more safeguards.

In this area, the law governing employee rights is complex. A wage garnishment for a single debt does not entitle your employer to take adverse action against you. Even if multiple debts involving the same creditor are causing your pay to be withheld, your employer may legitimately fire you. Once more, state law may give you more freedom than federal law.

How Much Will Your Wages Be Garnished?

The amount of your wage garnishment will vary depending on the kind of debt you have, as seen in the following example:

  • How much of your paycheck can be taken as garnishment?
  • Kind of debt
  • How much may be held back
  • Both alimony and child support

If you are providing support for a spouse or kid who is not the subject of the support order:

  • 50% of disposable wages if you’ve been delinquent for less than 12 weeks
  • 55% of disposable wages if you’ve been delinquent for more than 12 weeks

If you are not supporting a separate partner or child…

  • 60% of disposable wages if you’ve been delinquent for less than 12 weeks
  • 65% of disposable wages if you’ve been delinquent for more than 12 weeks

Consumer debts (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans)Up to 25% of your disposable earnings or the amount by which your disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage — whichever amount is less Federal student loans up to 15% of disposable pay Federal taxes amount will depend on your filing status and the number of dependents you claim.

The following types of income may be susceptible to wage garnishment under federal law:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Pensions, retirement benefits, and employment-based disability programs payments
  • Sign-on and referral bonuses, relocation incentives, attendance and service awards, and other lump-sum compensation

If My Wages Are Being Garnished, Should I Hire A Lawyer?

If you’re having financial difficulties, you might want to speak with a lawyer to see if bankruptcy will help you get back on your feet. The majority of garnishments will halt immediately once a bankruptcy petition is filed. However, it won’t prevent a deduction from income for paying child or spousal support.

Consult a lawyer who specializes in debt settlement if you need assistance negotiating a payment plan with a creditor.

When deciding whether to retain legal counsel to assist with a wage garnishment, take into account these points.

Wages may be withheld by administrative orders to pay certain debts, such as unpaid taxes, school loans, or bills for child or spousal support, which have been reduced to judgments.

  • Garnishments to Pay Judgments. If a judgment is obtained against you, a creditor may garnish your salary to satisfy it. To get a percentage of your salary paid to the creditor to settle your debt, the creditor must first file paperwork with the court.
  • Administrative Wage Garnishments. In rare cases, a creditor may take a wage garnishment action against you without first obtaining a judgment. “Administrative wage garnishments” are the term used to describe these actions. Even if you willingly agree to pay child or spousal support, the law nearly always requires that it be taken out of your paycheck. Federal student loans and unpaid taxes are some other obligations that might be collected through administrative wage garnishment.

If you are facing a wage garnishment or your earnings have already been taken, you may be considering your options, including whether to engage an attorney, fight the garnishment on your own, take no action, or do something else. Several variables, such as the following, will determine whether you should seek legal representation or find another means to deal with the garnishment.

  • You don’t owe the debt
  • The cost of the attorneys’ fees will be greater than the debt
  • The creditor is overreaching.
  • You want to negotiate alternative payment terms with your creditor.
  • Due to the garnishment, your employer is threatening to dismiss you.
  • By garnishing a bank account, the creditor is attempting to get around the wage exemption.


To assist a successful plaintiff in obtaining monetary damages from a defendant, a court may impose a garnishment. If a third party owes the defendant money, a garnishment order directs them to pay some or all of it to the plaintiff instead of the defendant. This individual is referred to as a “garnishee.”

The majority of wage garnishments impact defendants. For instance, a judge can order that a defendant’s earnings be withheld to pay back taxes, student loans, or child support. Wage garnishments are only permitted under the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act. It is codified at 15 USC 1671 et seq. if they do not exceed 25% of an employee’s take-home pay or 30 times the federal minimum wage. 15 U.S.C. § 1673(a) (a).

Similar limitations on pay garnishments exist in several states. State Civil Procedure Rules can be viewed.

Few courts let plaintiff debtors and creditors ask for wage garnishment as a temporary remedy even before the plaintiff wins his or her case. Rule 64(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is one example. However, courts frequently favor using other temporary remedies.


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