What Does It Mean to Amend a Garnishment?

by Christine Aldridge ; Updated July 27, 2017

When government agencies garnish your wages, it is not a particularly pleasant experience in most cases. There are numerous reason as to why a garnishment may occur, such as failure to pay back taxes, collection of child support or inability to pay another type of debt. However, as circumstances change, so too must the garnishment in many cases.

Definition Garnishment

A garnishment is an order given by a federal agency to your employer to withhold a certain portion of your paycheck each period in order to help pay off a debt you owe. The agency will generally not withhold all of your disposable pay, or what remains after your employer withholds taxes. The garnishment usually remains in effect until the full amount of the debt, or another agreed upon amount, is paid in full. Some agencies may also garnish your back account, thereby stopping any activity in the account and withdrawing the funds that are due. In some cases, you may petition the creditor or other agency to remove the garnishment due to a financial hardship.

Reasons

Almost any creditor or government agency, and in some cases a landlord, can garnish your wages if you owe them money and fail to pay. While garnishment is usually a last resort because of the legal hassle, it is a process that allows the organization to make collections. Some reasons for wage garnishment include failing to pay your taxes, credit card debts or student loans. Another reason includes owing child support or alimony.

Definition Amend

To amend is to make a change or modification to an item that already exists. In the case of a garnishment, the court or agency might amend the order if the circumstances surrounding the failure to pay or the individual changes. Any change in the terms or phrasing to the court order is to amend the garnishment.

Reasons

A court or the original agency may choose to amend a garnishment if the individual loses his job, remarries or pays back a large portion of what he owes. If the debtor pays back a siginficant portion of what he owes to the IRS, creditor or other agency, then the organization may choose to have his employer withhold less from each paycheck. If the debtor can provide proof that he made an error in good faith, many agencies will choose to lessen the interest or penalty charges and amend the garnishment.

About the Author

Christine Aldridge is a financial planner who has been writing articles related to personal finance since 2011. She has bachelor's degrees in political science from North Carolina State University and in accounting from University of Phoenix. Aldridge is completing her Certified Financial Planner designation via New York University.