If your wages have been garnished, or if you are facing wage garnishment, you may be wondering what that will mean for you. I've created this guide to explain the process in a simple, easy-to-understand manner.


How much can be taken?

The amounts that can be taken from your wages to satisfy a garnishment depends on how much you make. This number changed in July 2010, so I am going to give you the new numbers, which in many States will equal or be less then the current minimum wage in your State.


What is the law?

The law that controls garnishments is the federal "Consumer Credit Protection Act" 15 USC ? ? 1671-1677. It protects a portion of the wages based on the following schedule that is tied to the federal minimum wage. On July 23, 2009 the minimum wage increases to $7.25 per hour. (You can use this number to estimate the current amount protected).


Does the amount change?

The amount of disposable income that cannot be garnished on or after that date is $217.50, or 30 hours at the Federal minimum wage for the week in question. Only the amount over that can begin to be garnished. It is your employers' duty to determine the appropriate amount of the garnishment, and not just rely on an order from a court.


Will the amount taken vary?

Only the amount over $217.50 can be subject to the garnishment when total compensation is less than $290.00. If disposable earnings are more than $290.00 in any given week up to 25% of the wages can be garnished under federal standards. However State restrictions on garnishment should be checked in every case, as they may provide greater protection.


What about Child Support?

Conversely in many Sates Child Support payments or arrears are subject to higher maximum withholding standards. In many States child support arrears can garnish up to 65% of your income.


How about State laws?

In New York the maximum amount recoverable is ten percent (10%) of gross income, or the federal maximum, whichever is less. If the debtor is subject to garnishment for alimony, support or maintenance, the combined garnishments cannot exceed twenty-five percent (25%) of disposable earnings, but can be as high as 65% for child support.


How do they get the money?

Income executions are prioritized by order of delivery to the Sheriff, but garnishments for alimony support or maintenance always take priority. The execution is a two-stage process. First, the sheriff serves the execution on the debtor at his or her residence. If the debtor does not begin making payments within twenty (20) days, the sheriff levies on the employer.