Things to Know About Wage Garnishment in Ohio
A creditor is a business or a person that you owe money to. If you fall behind in your payments, the creditor could potentially obtain a judgment against you to garnish your wages. Wage garnishment laws allow creditors to withdraw money directly out of your paychecks. In Ohio, a creditor is generally permitted to take up to 25 percent following a judgment from a collections lawsuit.
However, some creditors —like some government agencies — can take more than a quarter of your wages, such as for debts owed for child support. Additionally, some debts don’t require a court order for garnishment (e.g., government fines, unpaid income taxes, etc.). Put simply, the types of wage garnishment you may face will depend on the type of debt you have incurred.
If you’re facing possible wage garnishment in Ohio, you have rights and legal options. Talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney at Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We’ll help you determine the best steps to take to protect your future.
Wage Garnishment Results from a Court Judgment or a Governmental Action
Most creditors can’t begin garnishing your wages just because you fell behind on a bill. The creditor must first file a collection lawsuit and receive a judgment permitting them to take a portion of your paychecks.
But under Ohio law, some government creditors are permitted to garnish wages without a court judgment, including:
- Court-ordered child support or arrearages
- Unpaid taxes
- Defaulted student loans
Either way, there must be some governmental action — a judgment, a lien, or administrative order issued— before garnishment can take place.
Limits on Wage Garnishment
Ohio law generally provides that a maximum of 25 percent of your income can be paid in garnishment. But there are also some specific garnishment limits on particular types of debt:
- Federal student loans: Up to 15 percent of your weekly disposable income.
- Federal taxes: Up to 15 percent of your weekly disposable income. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will look at your number of dependents and standard deductions to determine an appropriate amount.
- Child support and alimony: Up to 60 percent of your weekly disposable income. If you’re supporting a spouse or child, then 50 percent could be garnished. The collections agency could take an additional five percent of your weekly disposable income if you’re over 12 weeks late on your payments.
In most cases, if you have more than one judgment against you for wage garnishment in Ohio, there is a total limit of 25 percent. For example, suppose a court order already allows a creditor to garnish 15 percent of your wages and the court issues a second judgment against you. In that case, the creditor can only take out an additional 10 percent of your paycheck.
Your Rights in the Wage Garnishment Process
When you’re facing wage garnishment, you have certain rights under Ohio law. Understanding these rights is critical so that you can continue to support yourself and pay off your debts:
- You must receive a legal notification about the court-ordered garnishment.
- You’re permitted to dispute the amount of the garnishment, if you believe that the creditor has miscalculated the amount due.
- Creditors can’t garnish non-wage forms of income, such as veterans’ benefits and Social Security. (However, a creditor can sometimes seize benefits after they are deposited in your bank account).
- Your employer can’t fire you if there’s an order against you for wage garnishment. However, they could let you go if you have two or more garnishment orders.
If you’re unsure of the rights afforded to you during the garnishment process, speak to a bankruptcy lawyer immediately. They can be your advocate and represent you during a lawsuit or appeal, giving you the best possible chance for a fair result.
Bankruptcy Can Protect You from Wage Garnishment
Bankruptcy protection stops all collection actions and foreclosures. During this process, you can work on getting your finances in order. You might be able to keep most or all of your assets during bankruptcy. Additionally, the debt is often forgiven at the end of the process.
Contact an Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyer Now
If a creditor is garnishing or has threatened to garnish your wages, the bankruptcy attorneys at Amourgis & Associates, Attorneys at Law, can help. We’ll obtain and review all documentation associated with your debt and determine your legal options.
Call or contact us online for a free case evaluation. We have six conveniently located offices throughout Ohio to serve your needs.