What is a wage garnishment?

A garnishment is an order from a court that is sent to your employer requiring them to withhold certain amount of money from your paycheck. This money is then sent to the creditor. Mississippi law limits the amount of money that your creditors can take from your wages to 25%. Most creditors are limited to the 25%, but some creditors like the IRS, State Taxes and Child Support are allowed to get more.

What Is The Process For Getting A Garnishment?
1. A creditor must file a lawsuit against you and serve you with a summons telling you to come to court.
2. If you don’t show up for court, you default (you lose automatically). The judge will sign a default judgment against you. If you show up and admit you owe the debt, the judge will sign a judgment against you. A judgment is a court order stating that you owe a specific amount of money to a certain creditor.
3. The creditor must have a judgment signed by a judge before they can get a garnishment for your wages or your bank account.
4. Once your employer receives the garnishment papers, they must wait 30 days before they can start taking your wages. A bank will freeze your checking or savings account for 30 days before any of the money is taken out. This 30 day waiting period is to give you an opportunity to do something about the garnishment before it kicks in.

There are different rules for debts like Federal and State taxes, student loans and unemployment overpayments. Your wages can be garnished without a court judgment for these debts and there is no 30 day waiting period for them. They get to reach in to your paycheck or bank account and take the money without taking you to court.

What About Child Support?
Court orders for child support include an order for wage withholding. It may not be in effect right away, but it is in the file and it can be activated at any time. There is no 30 day waiting period for child support and alimony withholding and in some circumstances up to 60% of your paycheck can be taken.
Mississippi law requires that child support and alimony be deducted first, without regard to any other wage garnishments or payments. This means that child support or alimony is deducted at the same time and in addition to a garnishment.

What About Student Loans?
If you are in default on a federal student loan, they get to garnish your wages without getting a court judgment. This is done by administrative garnishment. But the most that they can garnish is 15% of your disposable income.
Private student loans don’t get this privilege. Private student loans still have to take you to court and get a judgment before they can garnish your wages

What If I Have Several Garnishments?
If you have multiple garnishment, the total amount that can be taken from you is 25%, but this doesn’t include child support or alimony. For example, if the Dept. of Education is garnishing 15% of your pay for student loans and your employer receives a second garnishment, the employer can only take another 10% of your pay to send to the second creditor.