A garnishment is an order of a court to an employer (the garnishee) to withhold a sum of money from an employee's earnings for payment of a debt. Rhode Island draws a distinction between garnishments for support obligations and garnishments for other kinds of debts.
There are numerous state and federal laws pertaining to garnishment. Where state law is more restrictive than federal law (i.e., by protecting a greater amount of salary from garnishment), then state law will govern. Specific state laws include RI Gen. Laws Sec. 9-26-4et seq.;RI Gen. Laws Sec. 15-5-24; RI Gen. Laws Sec. 10-5-8; and RI Gen. Laws Sec. 15-24-1et seq.
Garnishment vs. assignment of wages. Garnishment and assignment of wages are both methods of deducting money from an employee's salary to repay his or her debts. Garnishment is an involuntary procedure that occurs when an employee has not paid his or her debts voluntarily. Assignment of wages is generally a voluntary proceeding in which the employee agrees to the deduction. There is more information on assignment of wages.