In Illinois, a garnishment is generally fifteen percent of your gross pay, but there are some limitations to this which apply to low wage earners. For example, if you make the minimum wage in Chicago of $12 per hour, then you might be entitled to thirty times that amount per week, or $360. If you are making $700 a week, then 15 percent of that amount ($105) will be garnished. The only deduction from this amount would be for child support payments. For example, if 15 percent of your weekly wage is $105 and you pay $50 for child support, then the garnishment amount of $105 would be reduced by $50, to a total of $65.
Any creditor who wins a judgment against you is able to have your wages garnished. A creditor may also have the option of a bank garnishment, which would allow them to take all of the money out of your bank account with the exception of a personal property exemption of $4,000.
Creditors do not file wage garnishments or bank garnishments. Instead, they file assignments of assets, which are very technical but ultimately require banks to turn over all future assets to the creditors. In addition, an assignment of assets allows a creditor to receive information from your employer regarding your home address and bank account information.
If there is a wage garnishment judgment against you, do not answer it; this is something your employer should do. Your employer will report the amount of your gross income and then do the calculations. If there is a bank garnishment judgment against you, then you might need to get involved in order to assert your personal property exemption.
There is no cut and dry rule for how bad your debt situation must be before creditors take steps toward wage garnishment. Usually, creditors will pester you for a while, but some will turn over your debt to a collection agency.
Once a bank garnishment judgment has taken effect, you will immediately lose access to your accounts and funds.
Creditors can take over an account that is jointly owned with your partner or spouse. Your partner or spouse would have the right to go to court and assert that the money garnished was theirs, but the presumption will be that the funds were jointly owned.
Other than bankruptcy, there is no relief from garnishment judgments. The entity that is garnishing your wages will have your money immediately and will continue to receive it for as long as you keep your job (or for as long as it takes for them to obtain the money owed).
Once money has been deducted from your paycheck due to garnishment, there is no way to get it back. Filing for bankruptcy can help you to avoid future garnishments. For example, if you file for bankruptcy on a Thursday and your paycheck is due the following Friday, then you should be able to get back any money that is taken out from that paycheck.
Wage garnishment will stop once you file for bankruptcy.