Someone who sues you for money is known as a “plaintiff,” and you’re known as the “defendant” in a case of this kind. If the amount of money is less than a certain amount, you may find yourself in small claims court, and larger amounts may see you sued in regular civil court.
It’s important to understand your rights as a defendant and what to do if you’re under threat of wage garnishment.
What is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment isn’t a process that happens immediately when you’re a month or two behind on a car payment, or you haven’t paid a credit card bill in a few months. Wage garnishment from creditors can only occur after that creditor has successfully sued you in civil court and has won a judgment against you.
The only types of financial obligations that can result in wage garnishment without a lawsuit are child support payments, defaulted student loans, and unpaid taxes for the federal government or the state in which you live.
The most important thing to remember about wage garnishments is that…
Wage Garnishment Isn’t Automatic
The entity that sued you and won their case must submit court documents to activate a wage garnishment. While the federal government and the IRS can obtain wage garnishments against you without a court order, a creditor to which you owe money from a judgment must ask the court to garnish your wages.
Wage garnishment can be a painful part of losing a court case, but there are federal laws that limit how much money a creditor can garnish from your wages.
According to Nolo:
“The amount that can be garnished is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory deductions) or the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower.”
The amount can vary in some states, and the amount a creditor can garnish in Illinois is actually much lower at 15%. The way this works is that the court determines your level of disposable income and garnishes 15% of that amount.
For example, if you have $100 in disposable income each week, the court would garnish $15 per week. Another method for calculation involves taking your disposable income and subtracting the state’s minimum wage as multiplied by 45.
Some Income Types Aren’t Subject to Wage Garnishment
There are some types of income – mostly public assistance – that aren’t subject to wage garnishment.
For residents of Illinois, those types of income include unemployment compensation, worker’s compensation, Social Security & Supplemental Security Income, and general assistance & public aid.
One of the important facets of wage garnishment law is that an employer can’t fire or discharge you because you have a wage garnishment. You may need to rely on the assistance of a lawyer if you’re let go from a job and you suspect it was because your employer found out about a wage garnishment.
Do You Need Help With a Pending or Possible Wage Garnishment?
If you feel your rights have been violated and your wages garnished unlawfully, you may have legal remedies available. Contact Suburban Legal Group for assistance fighting debt collectors, wage garnishment, and civil lawsuits.
DISCLAIMER: All information on this website are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be construed as legal advice. Suburban Legal Group PC shall not be liable for any errors or inaccuracies contained herein, or any actions taken in reliance thereon.