What is Garnishment?

A garnishment is the withholding of your wages to pay a debt or, it is the withholding of property held by a third party, like a bank account. A creditor can only try to withhold or garnish your wages if they have a valid judgment against you.

How Will I Know About a Garnishment of My Wages?

The creditor will serve you with a Notice Before Garnishment. Ten days later, your employer will receive a Garnishee Summons. The Garnishee Summons tells the employer to withhold money from your wages and the total amount owed on the judgment. You must also receive a copy of the Garnishee Summons.

What Percentage of My Wages Can Be Withheld?

You can reduce the amount withheld or garnished from your wages by $20 for each dependent family member living with you.

NOTE! Exception: If garnishment is for support of a spouse or child, 50% – 65% of your wages can be withheld.

• To claim the dependent deductions, you must file a verified list of dependents with your employer within ten days of your receiving the Garnishee Summons. You must include Social Security numbers.

• After deducting for dependents, if the remaining amount is less than $10, the creditor can deduct nothing.

• Most judgment creditors cannot garnish any of the following:

– Welfare
– Social Security
– Unemployment
– Veteran Benefits
– Child Support or Spousal Support
– Workforce Insurance

Social Security, Unemployment, Veteran Benefits, and Workforce Insurance checks can be garnished for child support obligations. Social Security can also be garnished for past due taxes and federal student loans.

What Percentage of My Wages Can Be Withheld?

After deducting Social Security, Federal and State taxes, the smallest amount of these two calculations, minus any dependent deductions:

1. 25% of your wages (Example: Your take-home pay is $350 a week. 25% of $350 results in a garnishment of $87.50 each week).

2. The difference between your wages and 40 times Federal minimum wage. (Example: $7.25 x 40 hours is $290 a week. Your wages are $350 a week, minus minimum wage of $290 a week results in a garnishment of $60 each week). In this case, the garnishment is $60 each week because that is the smallest amount of the two calculations, unless you have dependent deductions.

NOTE THIS EXCEPTION: If garnishment is for support of a spouse or child, 50%-65% of your wages can be withheld.

What Should I Do If I Receive a Notice and Summons Before Garnishment?

Immediately file a verified list of dependents with your employer. In order to claim the additional $20 deduction for each dependent, you must give your employer the completed verified list of dependents within 10 days after you receive the Garnishment Summons.

What Should I Do If I Receive A Non-Wage Garnishment Notice?

• You have twenty (20) days to complete a claim for exemptions to protect your property. You must list your property and the values and provide this to the creditor who served you with the non-wage garnishment.

• You should refer to LSND’s resource titled How Can a Claim For Exemptions Help Me?

• There are significant Constitutional issues with the enforcement of a non-wage garnishment. If you have property that is being held by a thirdparty (i.e. bank account) and that property is being garnished, and you have not received a Notice Before Garnishment, you should contact LSND or a private attorney for advice.

Who Do I Contact With Additional Questions?

Seniors 60 and over Call:

Others Call:

Legal Services of North Dakota
Bismarck Law Office
418 E Broadway #25
Bismarck, ND 58501

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