How much can creditors take through wage garnishment?

If my net income is $236 a week, how much can be taken with a wage garnishment.

One Response to “How much can creditors take through wage garnishment?”

  1. Jeff Jenkins

    You recently asked, “If my net income is $236.00 a week, how much can be taken with a wage garnishment?”

    Wage Garnishment in New Jersey

    First, a creditor can’t automatically garnish your wages. In order to get a garnishment order, the creditor will have to sue you for collection. If you don’t respond, the creditor will win by default. If you believe you don’t owe the debt or that you owe a different amount than your creditor is claiming, you can fight back. It’s a particularly good idea to answer the suit if your bill has gone to collections and it’s the collection agency that’s suing you. You can ask them to prove that they actually own your debt and they often can’t, meaning you’re off the hook.

    If you do lose the suit, the creditor becomes a “judgment creditor” and can get a court order for wage garnishment. That means they can go over your head to your employer to get cash out of your paycheck every month.

    Wage Garnishment Limits

    In New Jersey, the amount a creditor can take from your paycheck depends on how much you make. If you would earn more than 250% of the federal poverty level after the garnishment, your creditors can pull 25% of your check. Currently, 250% of the federal poverty level is more than $550 per week for a single person. For a household of 2, it’s more than $750.

    If you’re earning less than 250% of the federal poverty level, the most a creditor can take out of your wages is 10% of your gross pay. That’s 10% of your paycheck after Social Security and taxes. If the $236 figure is your take-home pay after Social Security and taxes, then creditors could take about $23 every week.


    Certain types of debts don’t require a lawsuit before garnishment. These include child support and spousal support debts, income tax debts, and defaulted student loans. Those creditors may garnish your wages without first filing suit against you for collection.
    These special debts have different wage garnishment limits, too. Child support is the most serious one. If you’re behind on your child support, up to 50% of your disposable earnings can be garnished to pay that debt if you’re also supporting a spouse or a different child. If you’re not supporting anyone else, up to 60% of your wages may be garnished. If you’re more than 3 months overdue on your child support payments, you may face an additional 5% garnishment. Total, you may be looking at 65% of your earnings being garnished for child support.

    Student loan debt may result in garnishment up to 15% of your income. Income tax debt is also not limited to 10%, but the amount the government can garnish is determined by a complex formula involving your earnings and your dependents.

    Creditor Priority

    If you’re facing garnishment by more than one creditor, they can’t stack the garnishments over the legal limits. In other words, you can’t get stuck with 2 different 15% garnishments at the same time. You can, however, have 2 different 5% garnishments at the same time. If creditors are claiming more than the limit for the type of debt, you’ll pay them one after the other. Your wages will be garnished and paid to the first creditor to claim them until that debt is repaid. Then, your wages will be garnished and paid to the second creditor, and so on until your debts are paid back.

    Your Employer

    Your employer is the one who has to deal with the garnishment paperwork and who faces liability for failing to do so. That can be a big hassle, but you don’t have to worry about retaliation. The law prohibits your employer from firing you because your wages are being garnished.

    How to Stop Wage Garnishment

    If you’re struggling with debts and facing wage garnishment, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. The automatic stay will kick in as soon as you file and stop the garnishment. Bankruptcy can wipe out most of your unsecured debts and give you the time you need to reorganize your finances. You may want to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine if bankruptcy is the best way to deal with your debts.

    Hopefully this answers your question,

    Jeff Jenkins


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