It would be very difficult if not impossible to garnish your alimony, but they could seize your bank account if you hold funds in it. But before they can do anything they would have to file a civil suit against you and get a judgment. Depending upon your total financial situation you should consider bankruptcy. If funds are to low to hire an attorney allot of people do it themselves everyday, especially chapter 7 bankruptcy.
For more information, visit www.freebankruptcyinformation.info or checkout my legal guides regarding this topic posted on my AVVO profile.
Legal Information is Not Legal Advice
My answer provides information about the law based on the limited information provided in the questions asked and is not intended to be legal advice. The law differs in each jurisdiction and may be interpreted or applied differently depending on the location or situation. I highly recommend that you consult with an attorney to discuss the specific details of your situation so you can get legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances. The information in my answer is for educational and information purposes only, and is not legal advice or legal opinions. The answer provided to the question asked does not constitute a lawyer-client relationship.
The maximum part of disposable earnings of an individual for any workweek which is subjected to garnishment may not exceed the lesser of;
1. 25% of disposable earnings for that week, or
2. The amount by which his disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty (30) times the federal minimum wage.
The amounts that can be taken from your wages to satisfy a garnishment depend on how much you make. Also, this number will change 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.
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).
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.
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.
Conversely in many Sates Child Support payments or arrears are subject to higher maximum withholding standards.
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.
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.
Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.
Alimony is not wage income so those laws do not apply. I know of no law that protects alimony. However, a judgment needs to be obtained and then a garnishment needs to be filed. Your bank account can be seized. Virginia does have a general exemption, but once it is used up, you are vulnerable.
[This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]