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Help! Someone Is Trying To Garnish My Wages

What Is Garnishment?

It is the withholding of your wages to pay a debt or, it is the withholding of property (non-wages) held by a third party. ie. bank account.

A creditor can only try to withhold or "garnish" your wages if they have a valid judgment against you.

How Will I Know If My Money Will Be Withheld?

  • The action starts by serving you with a Notice Before Garnishment.
     
  • Ten days later your employer will receive a Garnishee Summons. The Garnishee Summons tells the employer to withhold your money and how much can be withheld.
     
  • You must also receive a copy of the Garnishee Summons.

How Much Of My Wages Can Be Withheld?

After deducting Social Security, Federal and State taxes, the smallest amount of the following:

25% of your wages (Example: Ms. Doe takes home $350 a week. 25% of $350 is $87.50).

or

The difference between your wages and 40 times Federal minimum wage. (Example: $7.25 x 40 hours is $290. Subtracting $290 from Ms. Doe's wages of $350 is $60.)

Your employer must withhold the smallest of the two amounts weekly unless you have dependent deductions.

NOTE!  Exception:  If garnishment is for support of a spouse or child, 50% - 65% of your wages can be withheld.

 

What Are Dependent Deductions?

  • You can reduce the amount withheld or garnished from your wages by $20 for each dependent family member living with you.
     
  • To claim the dependent deductions, you must file a verified list of dependents with your employer within ten days of your receiving the Garnishee Summons. You must include Social Security numbers.
     
  • After deducting for dependents, if the remaining amount is less than $10, the creditor can deduct nothing.
     
  • Creditors can not garnish any of the following:

    1. Welfare checks
    2. Social Security checks
    3.  SSI checks
    4.  Unemployment checks
    5.  Veteran's Administration checks
    6.  Child Support or Spousal Support Income
    7.  Workforce Insurance
  • Social Security checks, Unemployment Compensation checks, Veteran's Administration checks and Workforce Insurance checks can be garnished for child support obligations.

What Should I Do If I Receive A Notice And Summons Before Garnishment?

  • Immediately file a verified list of dependents with your employer.  In order to claim the additional $20 deduction for each dependent, you must give your employer the completed verified list of dependents within 10 days after you receive the Garnishee Summons.

What Should I Do If I Receive A Non-Wage Garnishment Notice?

  • You have twenty (20) days to complete a claim for exemptions to protect your property. You must list your property and the values and provide this to the creditor who served you with the non-wage garnishment.
     
  • You should read Legal Services of North Dakota's brochure #025 entitled How Can A Claim for Exemptions Help Me?

There are significant Constitutional issues with the use of the non-wage garnishment. If you have property that is being held by a third-party (i.e. bank account) and that property is being garnished, and you have not received a Notice Before Garnishment, you should contact LSND or a private attorney for advice.

Disclaimer:  This information is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should talk to a lawyer and ask for advice about your options.


April 2019
NDCC 32-09.1-23,23
NDCC 52-06-06.01
NDCC 65-05-29
Published by Legal Services of North Dakota