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Wage Garnishments – The Law In Illinois


July 31, 2018

Creditors have to first get a judgment before they can garnishment your wages in Illinois. It comes with little or no notice. Often people don’t know they have been sued until they seek the assistance of a Chicago wage garnishment attorney.

A Wage Garnishment is a demand that your employer pay them 15% of your gross income: not net income. For example, gross income is $600 per week the deduction is $90.

What Are Your Options?

In Illinois, lawmakers have left you with few choices when you get a brick on your check. If you are facing a wage garnishment in Chicago, IL, the best way forward is to speak with a wage garnishment attorney immediately.

  1. You can pay the full judgment (not likely);
  2. Offer a repayment plan to the creditor (almost never works);
  3. Quit your job (not a good idea);
  4. Grin and bear it (thinking it will be paid off soon but that may not be true);
  5. File a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and stop the garnishment now so you can get your finances in order.
The Law On Wage Garnishments In Illinois

A creditor obtains a money judgment against you. Then they serve your employer with a) a Wage Deduction Order, or: b) a Citation to Discover Assets on a 3rd party. The 3rd party is your employer.

Most collection lawyers use the Citation. Why? They get a treasure trove of information about you. Such as:

  1. Your bank account; (Many employers now pay by direct deposit.)
  2. Your home address and phone number; and,
  3. If you recently left that place of employment your new employer, if known.

When the creditor sends the garnishment they add:

  1. Court costs ($85 to $145 and sometimes more);
  2. Accrued interest from the date of the judgment;
  3. The deductions continue until paid in full.

Your employer must honor the garnishment. If they don’t they will become liable for the entire amount of the judgment. Don’t wait to contact a wage garnishment attorney in Chicago.

Limitations On A Wage Garnish Order

Do you pay child support? That amount will be deducted from the 15%. An example wage-$600; 15% is $90; child support order is $40, the wage deduction is $50.

Illinois law has an exemption of 45 times weekly minimum wages: ($12 per hours for Chicago, $8.25 per house for the rest of Illinois).

In Illinois (excluding Chicago) you should be able to take home $371.25 week of disposable income. In Chicago, the amount is $540 per week. If you feel that your wages are being unfairly garnished, contact a wage garnishment attorney in Chicago right away.

Additional Matters
  1. A Wage Garnishment does not stop a creditor from pursuing other collection tactics:
    1. Garnishing bank accounts and/or credit union accounts;
    2. Filing judgment liens.
  2. Employers can charge a service fee for each pay period;
  3. Overtime pay and bonuses are subject to the garnishment. So even if you earn extra money your creditors benefit.
  4. The law prohibits an employer from firing an employee for the first garnishment. There is no protection from a second garnishment. Employers can look for other reasons to fire an employee.
  5. A Bankruptcy filing only protects further wages. Any amount already deducted is lost to the creditor.
Others Who Can Attach Your Paycheck Without A Judgment
  1. The IRS can levy your paycheck;
  2. The government for back child support;
  3. The federal government for student loans.
Can you stop a wage garnishment?

In addition to the options above, you may attempt to stop a wage garnishment by appealing to the court that issued it through a Chicago wage garnishment attorney. You have the option of filing a claim of exemption to defend yourself against the garnishment of your wages.

If you can successfully convince the court that the garnishment is too harsh and is affecting your ability to access the basic necessities for living, the garnishment order may be set aside and replaced with a more affordable one. You will need to show the court proof of your living expenses and the hardship that the current garnishment order would cause you and your family. Before you attempt to file a claim of exemption, it is absolutely imperative that you speak to an experienced Chicago wage garnishment attorney, who can maximize your chance of successfully convincing a judge to see your side in a garnishment matter.

What happens when wages are garnished?

A wage garnishment is a court order, ordering your employer to garnish a certain amount of your wages each pay period and turn it over to the person or establishment that you owe money to. While a court order can only be the product of a lawsuit, there are certain debts that do not require a court proceeding in order to be permitted to garnish your wages. Unpaid child support, taxes, or federal student loans can be garnished via a bank levy, which means money will be taken directly from your bank account. If you wish to prevent your back account from being accessed by the government, you must get a wage garnishment lawyer in Chicago involved in your case to protect your rights.

How long before a creditor can garnish wages?

Generally speaking, a creditor cannot begin to garnish your wages as soon as you stop making or fall behind on your payments. Before your wages can be garnished, the person or company must first file and win a lawsuit against you. Only after they are granted a court order can garnishment begin. There are exceptions to this rule; unpaid child support, taxes, and federal student loans can result in a bank levy or a non-wage garnishment without a court order. A skilled Chicago wage garnishment attorney can advise you on how to proceed if you have debts of this type.

Can you negotiate a wage garnishment?

Once a wage garnishment has been ordered, it is generally too late to negotiate a payment plan that will work for you. The time for negotiation with a creditor is before garnishment has been ordered. If you can work out a repayment plan that truly works for you before a lawsuit is filed against you, you should certainly do so. If this is not an option, you will need to consider other options, like appealing to the court for a lower garnishment amount or filing for bankruptcy. Discuss your options to avoid or negotiate a garnishment with a wage garnishment lawyer in Chicago today.

Is wage garnishment regulated by federal law?

The federal law that limits the amount of an employee’s earnings that are permitted to be garnished is called Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Title III of the Act, which regulates garnishments, is administered by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment Standards Administration. However, this Wage and Hour Division has no actual authority when it comes to individual wage garnishments.

Questions or arguments regarding the amount being garnished, termination, or any other garnishment issue should be referred to the local court or agency that initiated the garnishment. For multiple garnishments, issues pertaining to the priority level assigned to each garnishment are not covered by Title III. They should be discussed with a wage garnishment attorney in Chicago and may be referred to whichever court or agency initiated the garnishment.

Who is protected by Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act?

Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act protects everyone who receives personal earnings of any kind. This can include salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions, pensions, retirement programs, and any other income excluding tips. Tips are generally not considered to be personal earnings when it comes to wage garnishment protection laws. If you are unsure whether your income is protected, seek the advice of a Chicago wage garnishment attorney. The Consumer Protection Act applies to all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and all other U.S. territories.

Is termination protected against when wages have been garnished?

The Consumer Credit Protection Act prohibits an employer from terminating an employee whose earnings are to be garnished for one debt. The Act does not, however, protect employees whose earnings are being garnished for multiple debts. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated in Chicago, call a wage garnishment attorney today.

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Robert J. Adams & Associates is a full-service law firm where attorneys with their extensive experience provide effective representation in Bankruptcy cases in Illinois.