How to Challenge Wage Garnishment

how to challenge wage garnishment

If you are unable to pay certain kinds of debts, creditors have the ability to seek legal recourse by taking you to court and securing a wage garnishment order against you. Wage garnishment is a court order sent directly to your employer, requiring them to withhold a specific amount of money from your paycheck to be sent to one of your creditors. The good news is you may be able to challenge the garnishment by objecting in court. Here, we explore your options when creditors start coming for your paycheck.

Before we talk about how to object to wage garnishment, it is important to note that there are federal and state rules in place to protect debtors from unfair wage garnishment practices. The amount your employer can withhold and the specific rules will be different depending on what kind of debt is in question and what your personal financial situation looks like. In New Jersey, there are specific laws in place to ensure you will have enough money to pay for your living expenses while your wages are being garnished. Creditors can only take up to 10% of your income when you earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level OR up to 25% when you earn more. Employers also cannot fire their employees for receiving a wage garnishment order.

In New Jersey, a creditor can garnish your wages only after they have sued and obtained a court judgement against you. The exception to this rule is if the creditor is collecting unpaid income taxes, child support payments, or defaulted student loans. Once your creditor has decided to sue you in an attempt to secure a judgement against you in court, you will likely receive a written notice and a hearing before your employer will start withholding money from your paychecks. This notice is called a Notice of Garnishment of Personal Earnings.

Once you receive this notice, you have to act fast. Your right to object to wage garnishment is limited and time sensitive. Depending on the debt in question, you can have between five and thirty days to bring forth a legitimate objection to the court decision. If you do not object within this time frame, your right to object to the garnishment is legally waived and your employer can begin withholding wages to send to your creditor. The garnishment letter will contain instructions on how to object, including specifics on court dates, deadlines, and expected objection formats.

If you decide to argue against wage garnishment and you receive a new hearing date to plead your case, there are a few valid legal reasons to object to the court order. Though this is a time consuming and complicated process, you still only have a limited time to present your case to the court. Some common reasons to object to wage garnishment are:

  • Federal or state limits aren’t being followed
  • You have a head of household exemption
  • Your creditor did not follow proper legal procedure
  • You are self-employed
  • The debt in question has been paid
  • You are already experiencing wage garnishment with another creditor
  • You are making payments to the creditor already
  • You have filed for bankruptcy

An experienced attorney will be able to work with you through some of the more difficult aspects of the court proceedings. They will know what the court is looking for and how what objections will work based on your specific case.

At Veitengruber Law, our experienced team will work with you to come up with a customized legal plan to meet your needs. If you are struggling with debt, it may be time for a fresh start. Our bankruptcy and debt relief legal team has years of experience working with clients to ensure a brighter financial future. We can help you explore all your options and protect your interests.

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