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Washington Garnishment: What you need to know

A garnishment is an order of a court to an employer to withhold a sum of money from an employee's earnings for payment of a debt. The state of Washington draws a distinction between garnishments for support obligations and garnishments for other kinds of debts.
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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), state law will govern. Specific state laws include WA Rev. Code Sec. 26.23.060et seq. concerning garnishments for family support, and Sec. 6.27.005et seq. concerning garnishments for other kinds of debts.
Family Support. Family support may include child support, alimony or spousal support, and health insurance. Withholding must begin within 7 days from the day the employer receives the order to withhold. The first payment should be deducted from wages due at the time the writ is received, and sent to the Division of Child Support (DCS) within 7 days of the time of notice. If the employer fails to withhold and deliver the funds, it can be held responsible for the entire support debt, plus costs, interest, and attorney's fees. The employer must send an information copy of the notice of payroll deduction to the address of the responsible parent.
Earnings. Earnings for support include wages or salary; commissions and bonuses; periodic payments under pension plans, retirement programs, and insurance policies of any type; disability payments; unemployment payments; gains from capital, labor, or from both combined; and the fair value of nonmonetary compensation received in exchange for personal services. Earnings do not include profit ...

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