Protecting Yourself From Garnishment
Remember that in both Oregon and Washington, with the exception of some debts that you may owe to the government, garnishment simply cannot take place until a creditor first actually obtains a judgement against you.
Once a collector or creditor does obtain a judgment, it must then file a request for garnishment and obtain a writ or notice of garnishment which is then issued to your employer, the “garnishee,” directing your employer to turn over wages at a specific time. This process requires notice to you of the garnishment. Once you receive the notice, you can then demand a garnishment hearing where you will be given the opportunity to show that some portion of state or federal law protects you from garnishment.
One way that you may be protected from garnishment is that federal law requires that the first $217.50 of your weekly take home pay (after social security and taxes are deducted) is completely exempt from garnishment. In the event that your wages are higher than this amount, your employer, the “garnishee,” must pay the smaller of the two following amounts to the garnishing creditor:
- Your weekly pay after deductions minus $217.50; or
- Twenty Five Percent of your weekly pay after deductions
The $217.50 amount above is linked to the minimum wage so if the current hourly minimum goes up from $7.25 per hour, this weekly amount will increase as well.
Remember that this garnishment rule only applies to wages and that it is the federal rule. Washington and Oregon may provide more generous treatment of wages for garnished employees. Social Security payments, Supplemental Security income and unemployment are exempt from your non-governmental garnishing creditors.
We can help you nip the garnishment issue in the bud quickly and efficiently. By filing either a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, we can stop your creditor from ever obtaining the judgment that it needs to start submitting the garnishment paperwork. Alternatively, we can help you with a defense in the underlying court case in order to either slow down or stop your creditor in its quest to obtain a garnishment writ. So if you are concerned about a potential garnishment, set up an appointment on the website so that we can review your situation and see what we can do to help.