The most common method used by judgment-creditors to enforce judgments is wage garnishment, in which a judgment creditor would contact the debtor’s employer and require the employer to deduct a certain portion of the debtor’s wages each pay period and send the money to the creditor. However, several states, including Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina, do not allow wage garnishment for the enforcement of most judgments. In several other states, such as New Hampshire, wage garnishment is not the “preferred” method of judgment enforcement because, although possible, it is a tedious and time consuming process for creditors.
In most states, creditors are allowed to garnish between 10% and 25% of your wages, with the percentage allowed being determined by each state. Administrative wage garnishment is not subject to the same rules, however. Wages may be garnished for student loans, child support and alimony in amounts greater than 25%.
In Indiana, wage garnishment is allowed under Indiana Code Title 34, Article 25, Chapter 3: Garnishment, and IC 24-4.5-5-105, and federal law 15 U.S.C. 1673(a). If the judgment-creditor is aware of the debtor’s place of employment, it may seek wage garnishment. Under federal law, the garnishment applies to 25% of the debtor’s net take home pay, (i.e., gross pay less statutorily mandated deductions). Garnishment can occur only after the person being garnished has received a 10-day’s notice. Indiana allows wage garnishment of up to 60% for child support, but limits that amount if the debtor is a head of household supporting others.
Garnishment of Social Security benefits or pensions for consumer debt is not allowed under federal law.
Consult with your employer’s legal counsel regarding the application of Indiana and federal employment law. In general, creditors must stand in line when a wage garnishment hits the 25% ceiling. However, if the wage garnishment is administrative and relates to federal student loans, a child support order, or alimony, then the 25% limit does not apply. Again, each state’s laws vary, and an attorney with experience in your state’s labor law will give you precise advice.
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