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. The state of West Virginia draws a distinction between garnishments for support obligations and those for other kinds of debts.
There are numerous state and federal laws pertaining to garnishment. Where state laws are more restrictive than federal law (i.e., by protecting a greater amount of salary from garnishment), then state laws will govern. The West Virginia laws on support garnishments are found at WV Code Sec. 48-14-401et seq. The laws on garnishments for other debts are found at WV Code Sec. 38-5A-1et seq.
Garnishment vs. wage assignment. Garnishment and assignment of wages are both methods of deducting money from an employee's earnings to repay his or her debts. Garnishment is an involuntary procedure that is usually conducted when the employee has not paid his or her debts voluntarily. Assignment of wages is a voluntary proceeding in which the employee agrees to the deduction and the employee must acknowledge it before a notary public. There is additional information on assignment of wages. .