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5 Things to Know About Collections and Wage Garnishments

You’ve won your case.  You have a judgment.  But you cannot collect your money.  Now what?  Maybe you decide to garnish the debtor’s wages.  What should you know before starting? 

1.    You must strictly comply with service and notice requirements 

The law requires strict compliance with the rules and any variations may set your process back—and tip off the debtor that you plan to garnish from.  If you garnish correctly, you may also recover fees and costs associated with the garnishment.  However, failure to properly serve the garnishee (the person you are attempting to garnish from) or the garnishee’s employer can result in an award to the garnishee, including the possibility of attorney’s fees in favor of the garnishee.  As such, it’s best to consult with an experienced attorney. 

2.    The amount you may garnish for a given pay period is limited 

A garnishment allows you to capture some of the garnishee’s income earned over a 60-day period.  Generally, this amount is 25% of the garnishee’s take-home pay.  The garnishee is entitled to keep the larger sum of either 75% of his take home pay or $253.75 (35 times the Federal minimum wage of $7.25).  If you are owed child support or spousal maintenance, up to 50% of the garnishee’s take home pay may be garnished.  There are other exemptions as to what types of income can be garnished (for example unemployment or disability benefits).  

3.    With good reason, you may formally question exemptions claimed by the garnishee

In its answer to your writ of garnishment, the garnishee’s employer may list exemptions to what wages can be garnished.  For example, the employer may claim the garnishee does not work there or does not make enough money to be garnished.  If you disagree with any of these purported exemptions, you may file an affidavit stating why.  A hearing may be held with the judge to determine the validity of the exemption claimed.  

4.    If the 60-day period does not satisfy your judgment, you can try again

A garnishee may owe you an amount that exceeds 25% of the take-home pay over a 60-day period.  In this case, you may apply for a new writ of garnishment every 60 days until the judgment is satisfied.  You must apply for a new writ of garnishment each time.  Be careful calculating the amount you are owed when you apply for a new writ of garnishment—if you wrongfully garnish wages, you may be held liable for damages that might result.  

5.    How much does it cost to garnish?   

Some attorneys charge on an hourly rate to assist with garnishment.  At AKW Law, we charge on a flat fee basis so you know exactly how much you’re paying instead of receiving a shocking bill at the end which way offsets the wages garnished.  We can also conduct supplement proceedings, which is where an attorney asks questions of the garnishee under oath regarding his finances, places of employment, bank accounts, etc. 

Contact us today at (206) 259-1259 or email  We can garnish bank accounts and wages simultaneously.  

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