Have Your Wages Been Garnished? You Have Options.


Wage garnishment is a legal situation in which your employer is required to withhold a specific amount of money from your paycheck in order to repay one or more of your creditors. In order for most creditors to have a valid wage garnishment order, they must have a judgement from the court stating that you legally owe them money and that your wages may be garnished until such time as the debt is repaid in full.

Naturally, when you borrow money from a creditor, you enter into an agreement that states your intention to repay the money you borrow. Whether you owe money to a creditor, the IRS, a secondary learning institution (student loans), a medical institution or an ex-spouse, it is possible that you will have your wages garnished if you fail to make payments on your debt.

It is understandable that debtors should be held responsible for their financial obligations. However, you still have to be able to survive while you are repaying your creditors. If you currently have wage garnishment(s) against you, there are some specific federal and state regulations that you should become familiar with.

  • Not all debts are created equal. Some types of debts do not require that a creditor receive a court order for a wage garnishment to commence. If you’ve received a child support order since 1988, it also contained an automatic wage garnishment order. No additional court order is required. The same goes for any unpaid income taxes and student loans that you’ve fallen behind on. Credit card debt and medical bills are debts that require the creditor to sue you and obtain a judgment and order from the court before your wages can be garnished.
  • Wage garnishments have limits. Federal laws state that your creditor(s) can take 25% of your disposable earnings OR your disposable earnings less 30 times the current federal minimum wage, whichever is less. New Jersey wage garnishment laws further limit how much your creditors can garnish. Under NJ wage garnishment rules: creditor(s) can garnish up to 10% of your wages if you make less than 250% of the U.S. poverty level. If your income is more than 250% of the poverty level, creditor(s) can garnish up to 25% of your wages.
  • You cannot be fired due to a wage garnishment order in New Jersey. Some employers may not like dealing with a wage garnishment order, which may tempt them to fire you so they don’t have to comply. In New Jersey, this is illegal. All employers must comply with wage garnishment orders.
  • Wage garnishments can be negotiated. If you’ve received a wage garnishment order from one or more of your creditors, you may very well be quite upset and anxious about losing a significant portion of every paycheck. A NJ wage garnishment order that will impede your ability to pay all of your monthly expenses can be appealed. Veitengruber Law will sit down with you to go over your living expenses and the garnishment that has been ordered. We will then formally object to the order and request that the court lower the amount of the garnishment.
  • Bankruptcy will halt a wage garnishment order. If you’re in extreme dire straits, you should consider filing for bankruptcy. Firstly, as soon as you file for bankruptcy, something called an automatic stay goes into effect, which prevents any of your creditors from collecting any money from you. (Exempt from this, of course, are alimony and child support.) Secondly, if satisfying a wage garnishment is well beyond your means – you probably should have filed for bankruptcy awhile ago.

To learn more about how we can help you with your wage garnishment dilemma, call Veitengruber Law at (732) 852-7295. We offer free first-time consultations, and payment plans that are extremely reasonable.

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