Can My Wages Be Garnished Without a Judgment?

| January 27, 2017

Wage garnishment requires that an employer withhold money from an employee’s pay to satisfy a debt. In most cases a court order would be necessary for a creditor to garnish your wages. However, there are certain circumstances in which wage garnishment is allowed in Georgia without a court judgment.


Wages can be garnished if a person defaults on a federal student loan. Up to 15% of disposable income, but not more than thirty times the minimum wage, can be taken by the loan holder. Your income tax return may also be seized. Proper notice must be sent to the debtor before any action is taken. Wage garnishment cannot occur for private student loans unless the lender sues.


If you owe unpaid federal income taxes, the federal government can garnish wages without a court order. The state can also garnish wages to satisfy delinquent state taxes. In addition, money can be seized from your bank accounts by bank levy. A collection notice or FiFa Lien would be recorded first.


Efforts to collect unpaid child support are aggressive in most states. In Georgia, all court ordered child support includes an automatic income withholding order. A much higher percentage of a person’s disposable income can be garnished if they are in arrears on child support payments. Up to 60% can be taken, and an additional 5% may be added when payments are more than twelve weeks late. Property liens may be filed and tax refunds can be seized to satisfy back child support.


If your wages are being garnished, you may be able to obtain relief by filing for bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will allow the debt to be reorganized and repaid over a 3-5 year period. Contact Morgan & Morgan Attorneys at Law if you have questions about wage garnishment or debt relief.


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