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Wage garnishment can turn payday into mayday

You probably look forward to payday. For some, payday means an extra splurge or perhaps chucking a little aside for a rainy day or a college fund. For you and for many, payday means getting by. Even with overtime or bonuses, you may have just enough to cover what you owe, or maybe what you bring home doesn't even make ends meet.

In this situation, a wage garnishment may devastate your budget. Wage garnishment occurs when a creditor receives permission from the court to deduct a certain amount of money from your paychecks to repay a debt you owe. Your employer will have no option but to withhold that money from your earnings.

Who is first in line?

Some of your debts may make you more vulnerable to wage garnishment than others. Naturally, owing money to the government places you at a higher risk of having your wages garnished since the government reserves the right to collect its money through this method. In fact, the three most common reasons for wage garnishment include:

  • You have defaulted on a federal student loan.
  • You owe taxes to the IRS.
  • You are delinquent on court-ordered child support or alimony.

If you owe back taxes, the IRS can garnish your wages without a court order. However, your employer can submit forms requesting an exemption that may reduce the amount of money the IRS takes from your checks.

Limits on garnishment

Owing money to credit card companies, medical facilities or other private creditors does not exempt you from the threat of garnishment. It is more difficult for private creditors to take this step, but filing a lawsuit to obtain a court order may be worth it to a creditor who is determined to get what you owe.

Fortunately, the law limits the amount of money a creditor may garnish from your wages. For example, private creditors may only take 25 percent of your disposable income, but for unpaid child support, you may see a garnishment of up to 50 percent of your disposable income.

Avoiding the pain of garnished wages

No matter how little is deducted, wage garnishments are not helpful to you in your situation. In fact, they may make matters worse for you by limiting the amount of disposable income you have to manage your other obligations. Additionally, some creditors may threaten wage garnishment above what the law allows just to intimidate you into paying.

The law protects you from this kind of aggressive debt collection, and there are other alternatives to protect you from wage garnishment. For assistance in exploring those options and understanding the limits of wage garnishment, you can reach out to a New Jersey attorney who understands your circumstances and can offer sound advice.


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  • NACBA | National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
  • NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates
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Goldman & Beslow, LLC

Goldman & Beslow, LLC is a Federal Debt Relief Agency by an Act of Congress. We have proudly assisted consumers seeking relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for over 38 years.

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