13 Things To Know About The Process Of Wage Garnishment In NY And Stopping It

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Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, Debt Settlement, DUI and DWI

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What is a wage garnishment?

Wage garnishments take place when the government or a court orders your employer to set aside a portion of your earnings in order to pay off a private debt.

What is a private debt?

The debts that are included in wage garnishment by a private party are credit cards, private student loans, medical bills and bank loans.

How much of my wages can be garnished?

The amount garnished from your wages depends on your income, either gross income or disposable income.

Disposable income is the amount of money you make after deductions such as taxes, social security and unemployment insurance.

Gross income is the amount earned before any of those deductions listed above are made.

If your disposable income is less than $217.50 per week:

·       Your wages cannot be garnished therefore all of your income is exempt from debt collection.

If your disposable income is between $217.50 and $290 per week:

The creditor may garnish lesser of -

·       10% of your gross income OR

·       25% of your disposable income

The amount you earn above $217.50 is usually less than 10% of your gross income

If your disposable income is greater than $290 per week:

·       The creditor may garnish the lesser of:

·       10% of your gross income OR

·       25% of your disposable income

10% of your gross income is usually less than 25% of your disposable income

If you are already being garnished for either spousal support or child support:

·       You may still be garnished in order to pay for a separate private debt, but only up to 25% of your disposable income.

Can any of my benefits be garnished in order to pay a private debt?

Social security and any other benefits are completely exempt from debt collection and by no circumstances be garnished to pay a private debt.

What should I do if I receive a wage garnishment notice?

Receiving a wage garnishment notice ensures you that a creditor has obtained a judgment against you. The only way to lift this judgment is by vacating it in court. If you are able to vacate the judgment, your wages can no longer be garnished nor will the judgment appear on your credit report. You can vacate a judgment by filing court papers and appearing in court, with or without a lawyer.

What actions should I take if my wages are already being garnished?

You still have the right to vacate the judgment, even if money is being taken out of your earnings. When and if the judgment is vacated, the court can order the creditor to return all of your earnings back into your account and the garnishment is then over.

Why was I never notified of this lawsuit before I realized that my wages were being garnished?

If you were never properly served papers of your lawsuit and can proving that accordingly, whether it was change of address or wrong address- it is likely that vacating your judgment is ensured.

Can the creditor garnish my wages and freeze my bank account at the same time?

If you are being garnished at maximum amount, it is not likely that your bank account will be frozen as well. The rest of your wages (after the maximum garnishment) are exempt from debt collection, even if they are deposited into a bank account.

Can I be garnished for two debts at a time?

Yes but in respects to the maximum amounts listed above. Multiple garnishments work themselves out by allowing the first creditor to take the maximum amount, until your debt to them is paid off. Your second creditor is then allowed to begin the same process.

What is the exact process of wage garnishment?

1.    Wage garnishments for any private debt collection begin with debt collection lawsuits.

2.    In order to begin garnishing your wages, the creditor must obtain a judgment against you from the courts.

3.    Notice of income execution is then sent to a New York City Marshal, stating that the creditor has obtained the judgment and can begin garnishing your wages.

4.    The Marshal must then serve you with a copy of the income execution within 20 days

5.    After being served the income execution, you then have 20 days to call the marshal to set up a voluntary payment plan

6.    If you do not contact the marshal within 20 days, the Marshal then has the right to serve the income execution to your employer so that your debt can begin to be collected and sent to your creditor.

7.    The marshal must then send you an account statement included how much of your debt has been paid since your wages have been garnished, and how much of your debt is still left. This may come from time to time.

Can my employer fire me because of my wage garnishment?

If you are being garnished for the first time, your employer cannot fire you. But if it is your second time, your employer has the right to let you go.

What if I am unable to vacate the judgment, but I cannot afford to get my wages garnished?

If you choose not to vacate, or you were simply denied the vacation, you have the right to go to court and ask for a modification. You can file an “order to show case,” in order to decrease the amount being garnished. This “order to show case” allows you to prove why you cannot afford to lose out on the amount taken out of your earnings. Proof of income, rent, bills and monthly expenses will further strengthen your explanation to the courts. If you can prove that you are unable to pay for necessities such as rent, food, medical care and utilities, then hopefully you can be garnished at a lower rate.

From the author: Arthur Lebedin, Esq.
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