Wage garnishment is one option open to collect an outstanding debt or judgment. You can have your wages garnished when a court or legal authority, like the Georgia Department of Revenue, issues a writ of garnishment to your employer. Your employer will withhold funds and forward that money to the collecting authority. If you are experiencing financial hardship because of a wage garnishment, you can apply for relief from either the agency that ordered the garnishment or from the court that issued the judgment.
Figure out who ordered the wage garnishment. In some cases, you may already know who you owe money to and why the money is being withheld. If you don't know, ask your employer for a copy of the writ of garnishment, which will list who the collecting authority is.
Gather your information. In order to prove a hardship claim, you will need a detailed report of your income and expenses.
Contact the institution that you owe the debt to, if you owe a debt to the government. For example, if you owe the Internal Revenue Service or the Department of Education money, you should contact it directly and tell it you want to make a hardship claim. The IRS can place you in "Uncollectible Status" if you can prove the garnishment is causing you severe financial difficulties; the Department of Education has a similar procedure where you can get collection on your loans halted if you can prove hardship.
Contact the court that issued the writ of garnishment and ask for a hardship application. Each jurisdiction in Georgia will have slightly different applications and rules for procedure, but in general, the clerk at your county's civil court should be able to provide you with the correct forms.
Consider filing for bankruptcy if you are unable to find relief through filing a hardship claim. Some debts, like student loans and child support, can't be included in a bankruptcy. Contact a bankruptcy lawyer to find out if your debt can be canceled with a bankruptcy.
The IRS, Department of Education, courts and state tax authority all have different ways of calculating hardship. Ask your lender or the court for information on what constitutes hardship before proceeding with an appeal.
- U.S. Department of Education: Administrative Wage Garnishment
- Student Loan Borrower Assitance: Administrative Wage Garnishments
- TaxDebtHelp.com: Stopping or Protect Against IRS Wage Garnishment -- Release a Wage Levy
- Internal Revenue Service: Levy
- DebtSettlementLawyers.com: Stopping Wage Garnishment in Georgia
- Department of Labor. "Garnishment." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Michigan Legal Help. "An Overview of Garnishment." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968 -15 U.S. Code § 1673.Restriction on Garnishment." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968 - 15 U.S. Code § 1672.Definitions." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet 30: The Federal Wage Garnishment Law, Consumer Credit Protection Act's Title III," Page 2. Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- United States Department of Labor. "Minimum Wage." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Department of Labor. "Fact Sheet 30: The Federal Wage Garnishment Law, Consumer Credit Protection Act's Title III," Page 3. Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- California Courts. "If You Do Not Pay Your Judgment." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Office of the U.S. Courts. "Discharge in Bankruptcy – Bankruptcy Basics." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "United States Bankruptcy Code - 11 U.S. Code § 523.Exceptions to Discharge." Accessed Feb. 13, 2020.
Stephanie Ellen teaches mathematics and statistics at the university and college level. She coauthored a statistics textbook published by Houghton-Mifflin. She has been writing professionally since 2008. Ellen holds a Bachelor of Science in health science from State University New York, a master's degree in math education from Jacksonville University and a Master of Arts in creative writing from National University.