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What are Garnished Wages?

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If you owe money to another it is sometimes possible for this to be deducted from your salary. Garnished wages refer to any money that is taking from your pay check for this purpose – it can also be deducted from other payments such as royalty checks. In most instances this situation will occur because a court has ordered it to be done; it could be to pay child support or to settle monies awarded by the court. If the payroll of a company receives an order to garnished wages then they must comply with this.

How Wage Garnishment Works in Practice

A court order will be given to payroll with instructions to remove money form an employee’s wages. The most common reasons for this are; failure to pay child support, failure to clear student loans, unpaid court fines, and unpaid taxes. In most instances the authority demanding the credit will not expect it all to be paid in one go. This would put the individual in an intolerable position of not having any money to live on and so working for free. It is more usual that the garnishment will involves regular deductions from wages until the money owed is cleared. With something like child support this removal of wages could continue for many years.

There are actually laws in different states about how garnished wages need to be handled. Some states allow fewer possible reasons for why such an action would be permissible. In places like Pennsylvania and Texas it is only possible to remove wages based on money owed that is federally guaranteed. In all states it is possible to order this deduction for failure to pay taxes or child support.

The Benefits of Garnished Wages

While the idea of deducting wages from an employee will sound like a bad idea to most of us there are some good reasons for why it will occur. There are many parents struggling to bring up kids alone with no help from the other parent of the child. Unfortunately there are a lot of deadbeat parents and these people are bad for society. If they refuse to take care of their children it is not fair to expect the rest of the community to do it for them. By forcing them to pay child support it means their children don’t have to grow up depending on charity or struggling to survive. It is unusual for garnished wages to be used without attempting other solutions first of all. This type of action is usually only a last resort for those people who just refuse to pay the money they owe.

It would seem then that garnished wages are a necessary evil. So long as other solutions have been tried first of all it may be the only way to get money owed. In some states there is a limit of 25% of wages that can be taken at any one time. This is a big chunk of a wage packet but it should leave enough for the individual to live on.

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Meet the Author

Anthony Carter currently resides in Fife, Scotland with his wife Lisa, and their three wonderful children. As a senior editor for various publications, if he's not reading and writing, you would find him photographing and traveling to some of the most far-flung locations around the world.

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