Understanding Wage Garnishments

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Julie O'Bryan  |  12-04-17 | 2:48pm

Having creditors hound you daily can be a very trying time. It is worse to discover that one or more are trying to take your hard earned money, necessary for you to get by, away from you. You may not understand it right away, but know that this happens to hundreds of people just like you and there are steps that can be taken to reverse the effects.

What is a Wage Garnishment?

A creditor, or someone you owe money to, can have an attorney file a motion with the court to force your employer to deduct a certain amount from your paycheck in order to pay your debt to them. The process of the deducting this from your pay is known as a wage garnishment.

Leading up to a Wage Garnishment

Prior to getting your wages garnished, you should have received several things in the mail. First and foremost, a creditor would have filed a lawsuit against you. Again, a filed judgment is not required for owed child support, student loans, or taxes. Having a judgment filed against you does not automatically mean they will garnish your wages and you often have some time before you have to take action. Other things that could happen include a bank levy or judgment lien filed on your property.

Your wages will not be garnished without warning. You and your employer will both get notice before they are deducted. The paperwork you will receive in the mail will include the phrase “Order of Wage Garnishment.” If you receive this paper and have not made steps toward filing bankruptcy, it is now time to take action. You could be able to file before it starts and avoid it all together.

How much will be taken?

The intent of a wage garnishment is to pay off the entire debt. An amount of about 25% of your paycheck will be taken out each time and sent to the creditor until the debt is paid. However, be aware that the percentage of pay to repay child support, student loans, or taxes could be higher.

How to Stop a Wage Garnishment

A wage garnishment will continue until the entire debt is paid off or arrangements are made to pay off the debt. If you do not want to file bankruptcy, your only other options are continuing with the garnishment or contacting the creditor directly to arrange payments for the debt.

Filing a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy can put an end to your wage garnishment. Once you file and have a case number, creditors will no longer legally be able to pursue you. In a chapter 13, you will pay back your creditors, including the one trying to garnish you, with plan payments. In a chapter 7, as long as the debt is dischargeable, they can take no further action against you.

Your bankruptcy attorney will send notice to the creditor and their attorney to get the wage garnishment stopped immediately and recover some of the funds that may have been taken.

Getting Garnished Wages Back

If you have been garnished before you file for bankruptcy, it is possible to get some of your garnished wages back. Funds in excess of $600 taken within the ninety days prior to filing can be recovered. Any amount that is taken after the filing date can also be recovered. Usually a refund check will be sent to your attorney for you to pick up.

Kentucky Wage Garnishment Laws

Keep in mind that in every state the laws regarding wage garnishments may be a little different. For more information on Kentucky specific laws, click here to visit the website for the Kentucky Department of Labor.


We understand how difficult this process can be for you and are here to help. If you still have questions after reading this post or think it may be time for you to consider filing, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

Contact O'Bryan Law Offices Today