Being in significant debt can wreak havoc on your life, but there are some types of debt that have a bigger impact than others. If you owe money for student loans, back taxes, for a court judgment or for child support, the courts generally do not leave your obligation to pay in your own hands: rather, they have the power to garner your wages.

Wage garnishment is a term that describes a court order that gets sent to your employer and instructs them to hold back a certain amount of your pay to be sent to the person or entity that you owe. A wage garnishment stays in place until you’ve paid off your debt or the order to pay (such as child support) reaches its endpoint.

Different states have different laws when it comes to wage garnishment. In the state of New Jersey, creditors are limited in the amount of your wages that you can be deprived of. That limitation is the lesser of either 10% of your gross wages or 25% of your disposable earnings, and if you earn less than $154.50 gross per week then no wage garnishment can occur. In the state of Pennsylvania, wage garnishment is not permitted to pay off debt to creditors unless the creditor obtains a judgment against the debtor in a court of law. It is, however, permitted for the payment of spousal or child support, to collect back taxes or back rent and to pay off student loans. The percentage of income that can be garnished depends upon the reason for the payment: while garnishment to pay off back rent is limited to 10% of net income as long as it does not put the debtor under the federal poverty level, while for child support as much as 60% can be garnished from the wages of those who are not already paying support to another family, and an additional percentage can be added on if you are in arrears on your payments. Other types of payments generally fall between these two extremes.

Having your wages garnished can have a significant impact on your life, especially if you are subjected to the process for more than one debt. People who have multiple garnishments lose their protection from being fired by their employer, so those who face these actions often need legal help to protest or appeal the decision. If you are facing wage garnishment and want to learn more about your legal options, contact us today to set up an appointment.

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