What to do if your wages are garnished in Pennsylvania?

One of the first things that you need to do if you have been advised that your wages are going to be garnished to pay a debt is to immediately contact a bankruptcy attorney at Melaragno, Placidi & Parini. One of the reasons why you should make the call is that in Pennsylvania a threat of wage garnishment can be considered a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you have been threatened, call us immediately.

The legal definition of garnishment is “a court order directing that money or property of a third party (usually wages paid by an employer) be seized to satisfy a debt owed by a debtor to a plaintiff creditor.” Put another way, it “is when money is legally withheld from your paycheck and sent to another party.” That said, the debtor may also be entitled to relief if they are facing financial hardship.

It also should be noted that the IRS can garnish wages without a court order. Additionally, the Consumer Credit Protection Act lays out limits for what may be garnished from wages, “except” for bankruptcy orders, unpaid taxes, delinquent child support, student loans that have been defaulted on and voluntary wage assignments.

While your wages can be garnished in Pennsylvania, there are very limited situations where it is allowed. Garnishment may happen only if the appropriate legal procedures are adhered to for the following debts:

  • A judgment for spousal or child support
  • Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) student loans
  • Certain types of taxes
  • Rent arrears on a residential lease
  • Payment for criminal matters
  • To pay a legal out of state civil judgment
  • Obligations in relation to a final divorce distribution

Garnishment of wages can only be done via a court order directed to the employer. No court is issued without fair notice to the debtor. No other debt or legal obligation can result in wage garnishment (wage attachment) in Pennsylvania. Federal laws ensure you can pay living expenses. Pennsylvania’s wage garnishment laws go even further, limiting the type of debt a creditor can use a wage garnishment for, and the amount a creditor can garnish from your wages.

Each garnishment case is different and it is strongly recommended that you discuss your case with Melaragno, Placidi & Parini to figure out what your legal rights are and what options are open to you.

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