What is Wage Garnishment?
• A garnishment is a process that involves collecting a monetary judgment against a defendant by ordering a third party to deliver finances--which would otherwise be owed to the defendant--to the plaintiff. As a result of this classification, a wage garnishment keeps this definition in mind, only the finances delivered are taken from an individual’s salary to pay off an outstanding debt.
• A garnishment is a legal remedy authorized by a court to fulfill a loan obligation that is left outstanding. A wage garnishment is a last resort tool used by creditors to collect an outstanding debt from an individual who has defaulted on a previous loan.
• If you are having trouble paying your bills or fulfilling a debt obligation, a creditor may take money from your earned salary through a garnishment proceeding. That being said, there are a number of state and federal laws that will protect you and ensure that the creditor is using this last resort tool in a humane and suitable way.
How Do Wage Garnishments Work?
• A wage garnishment is issued when an individual fails to meet the repayment obligation of a bill or debt. When you stop paying creditors, they have the ability, through a court’s judgment, to collect what is rightfully owed.
• The court order is the formal legal proceeding that can initiate a wage garnishment and subsequently allow a creditor to take money from your paycheck. The court order details the specific amount owed and the interest rate attached to the outstanding debt. During this process the court will review your particular financial situation. If the court decides that you unreliable or unable to meet the loan requirements established through the previous agreement, it will permit the creditor to garnish a percentage of your earned salary. When this occurs, the creditor must supply you with a garnishment claim, which contains the following information: A clear statement that reveals the initiation of a wage garnishment proceeding; a description of any “exemptions” from wage garnishment (simply means what cannot be taken from the individual in debt); steps to follow to challenge or appeal the wage garnishment process.
• Following the statement, the creditor takes the court order for wage garnishment to the local sheriff to initiate the collection process. This process will be suspended if the individual in debt possesses valuable possessions such as: liquid assets, a motor vehicle, or regular wages.
• The local sheriff, upon receiving the court order, will present your employer with the garnishment papers. These papers will order the employer to take out a certain percentage from each paycheck. The money taken from the paycheck is then used to pay off a portion of the outstanding debt.
• Wage garnishment is typically used when you are steadily working at more than the minimum hourly wage. Creditors will also avoid wage garnishment when other claims exist against your wages.