A "garnishment" is an order of a court to an employer (the garnishee) to withhold a sum of money from the earnings of an employee (the debtor) for payment of a court- or agency-ordered debt to a creditor. There are numerous state and federal laws pertaining to the procedure. Where state law is more restrictive than federal law (i.e., protects more of the employee's salary from garnishment), state law will govern.
Garnishment and family withholding laws are rather complicated and very specific. Employers should thoroughly read each of the letters and forms they are sent as part of an order, and follow their instructions carefully.
Garnishments 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. Assignment of wages is generally a voluntary procedure in which the employee agrees to the deduction. Garnishment is generally an involuntary procedure that is usually applied because the employee has not paid his or her debts voluntarily. There is additional information on assignment of wages.
Respond promptly. An employer that is served with a wage garnishment must respond promptly to the notice and any other court papers regarding garnishment. Employers failing to respond to a notice or in any way ignore a garnishment run the very real risk of being held personally liable for the entire judgment.
Exemptions. One hundred percent exemption applies for debtors with household incomes below the poverty line or for debtors receiving or eligible for public assistance. But no restriction applies if the debt is a family support order, is an order from bankruptcy court, or is a debt due for any unpaid taxes. ...