If you owe money to a creditor, they may try to garnish your wages. This would mean that part of your paycheck would go directly to them every time you are paid. This may get the debt paid off, but it can make life difficult if you are living paycheck to paycheck as it is. Luckily, most states have certain laws to protect debtors from losing their entire paycheck before they can pay their bills. For instance, there are some very specific wage garnishment limits in West Virginia.
For the most part in West Virginia, your creditor would have to get a court judgment before they can garnish your wages. This requires a lawsuit so that the court judgment will state you owe them the money. If you owe unpaid income tax, child support, or defaulted student loans, that is not the case. With those specific debts, a judgment is not needed.
There are two ways to determine the maximum amount of money that can be taken from your paycheck. The amount can either be up to 20 percent of your disposable income or the difference between your earnings and thirty times the minimum wage, based on the hours you worked. The best news is that the amount they can actually garnish will be the lesser of the two equations.
Like before, the above types of debt are the exceptions. With child support, the amount is up to 40 percent, or 50 if you are not supporting anyone else, and for every week over twelve weeks you get behind, they can add another 5 percent. For defaulted student loans, the federal Department of Education can only garnish 15 percent, but they do not need a judgment. And for back taxes, the number can vary.
Perhaps the most important protection afforded you if your wages are garnished is that you cannot be fired for that reason. It may be a hassle for your employer to comply with the wage garnishment order, but federal law and the West Virginia law work in tandem to insure that you will not lose your job because you owe money.
You cannot lose your paycheck simply because you are in debt, but some of your money can be taken to work on the problem. Perhaps it is not how you would have chosen to pay off your debt, but the wage garnishment limits in West Virginia are designed to protect you as well as get your debt paid off.
Kari discovered the magic of writing early, in elementary school, and has devoted every spare moment to it since. She writes fiction for her own amusement, and recently began writing articles for The Daily Tar Heel in Chapel Hill. Besides writing, she loves spending time with friends and family, reading, and drinking coffee. She defines herself based on her faith in God, her family roots, and her dream of one day publishing a best-selling novel.