by Contributor

(Feb. 8, 2022) — Getting out of debt is a challenge on its own, but it can get even tougher if one or more of your creditors decide to issue a wage garnishment to charge down payments before you receive your wage. Wage garnishment in Georgia is regulated by federal law but includes several state-regulated wage garnishment limits and restrictions. More on that below. 

Shortly About Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is a legal way for your creditors to charge a certain part of your paycheck before you receive it from your employer. The order is issued by the court and obliges your employer to withdraw a part of your wage to pay down your credit balance. 

Wage Garnishment Consequences in Georgia

To understand the potential consequences of a wage garnishment, you need to learn the garnishment limits for specific types of debt, including:

  • Unpaid child support or alimony – both federal and Georgia state laws allow the court to garnish up to 60% of your disposable earnings if you don’t support a child now or up to 50% in the other case. Extra 5% may be garnished if you delay the last support payment for over 12 weeks;
  • Federal or private student loan – U.S. Department of Education and its partners are eligible to garnish up to 15% (for private student loans) of your disposable wage, but only if this portion doesn’t leave you with an amount lower than 30 times the minimum weekly wage; 
  • Unpaid taxes – both federal and local departments of the IRS are allowed to garnish up to 25% of your wage or all the money that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage;
  • Personal loans – personal loan wage garnishment is limited to 25% of your disposable weekly earnings;
  • Court case judgments – up to 25% of your disposable weekly earnings may be withdrawn;
  • Back rent or rental property damage – up to 25% of your disposable weekly earnings may be withdrawn.

All the government agencies that are your creditors have the right to issue their own wage garnishment orders bypassing the court system. However, you can request the court to review the garnishment order if you find it unlawful for a good reason or simply want to ensure its eligibility. 

Job Termination Restrictions

Although your employer might prefer to fire you instead of complying with your wage garnishment orders, they don’t have a legal right to do it if you have 1 active garnishment order. Still, you won’t get any legal protection if you have 2 or more orders. 

How to Avoid Wage Garnishment?

There are 3 ways to reduce or stop wage garnishment in Georgia in 2022:

  1. Claim an exemption or raise an objection to the court to make some of your wages exempt. The amount you will be able to keep depends on the court’s decision. 
  2. File for bankruptcy. Filing both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 automatically enables the stop order that prevents any creditors from garnishing any of your wages until the court decides on the amount you are allowed to keep. Creditors can’t even contact you by any means until the court terminates the stop order. 
  3. Negotiate a more feasible repayment plan with the IRS or your issuing bank. This will let you extend your repayment schedule and reduce the size of monthly down payments without enabling the wage garnishment order. You can seize this opportunity by filing for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

Know Your Rights

Although wage garnishment is a fearsome procedure, you can guard your wages if you know the rules of the game. Seize your legal rights to escape debt repayment complications and simplify your repayment schedule as much as possible. Which is the reason for wage garnishment in your case? How are you planning to deal with it? Tell us about it in the comments.

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