In a Nutshell
A wage garnishment order allows creditors to take money directly from your paycheck. Most of the time, this is only possible after a court has entered a judgment. Here's how Louisiana regulates wage garnishments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated October 21, 2021
If you fall behind on paying a debt, you can be sued by the creditor. If they get a court order for the money you owe them, they’ll take serious steps to collect that money, including garnishing your wages. A wage garnishment allows creditors to take money directly out of your paychecks until you’ve paid the debt off. To do this, they need to follow a specific legal process.
In this article, we’ll walk through what wage garnishment is, how it works in the Pelican State, and what limitations creditors have under Louisiana law.
What Is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a way that creditors collect money you owe them by having funds withheld directly from your paycheck. So how does this happen? Wage garnishments typically start when you owe a creditor money because you defaulted on a loan or you haven’t been paying credit card bills. To be able to garnish your wages, the creditor generally has to get a money judgment against you in court.
To get a judgment, the creditor will need to file a lawsuit against you for failing to make payments on the money you owe. They also have to notify you of the lawsuit. If you don’t show up to court, the court will automatically give the creditor a judgment against you. This is called a default judgment. Once the creditor has a judgment, they can start the process of getting a wage garnishment. Every state has its own wage garnishment rules and limitations that creditors must follow.
Who Can Garnish My Wages in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, the following entities can garnish your wages with a valid court judgment:
Creditors: Creditors, or original creditors, include your bank, a credit card company, or other entities that you borrowed money from.
Debt collectors: Debt collectors, or debt collection agencies, are hired by creditors to collect money for them. These agencies can also garnish your wages.
Debt buyers: When original creditors no longer want to try and collect on a debt, they often sell the debt to a debt buyer.(Video) How to Stop a Wage Garnishment in Less than an Hour!
Other entities can collect on special types of debt without a judgment:
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can garnish your wages to pay back taxes without a judgment using a wage levy.
Federal student loan servicers work with the Department of Education and can garnish your wages to collect on defaulted student loans without a judgment.
If you owe child support, the person who is owed the child support payments can garnish your wages.
The below sections focus on wage garnishment for non-special debts that can only happen after a judgment.
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Louisiana Wage Garnishment Process
In Louisiana, wage garnishment proceedings are governed by state law. To obtain a wage garnishment, the creditor must first file a lawsuit against you to get a judgment. The judgment gives the creditor the right to take collection actions against you, including wage garnishment.
Once the creditor has the judgment, they will need to file a garnishment petition and order with the court. This is sometimes called a garnishment order in other states. In Louisiana, it can be called a writ of fieri facias. The court will then sign the garnishment order, which officially names your employer as the garnishee and asks them to respond to garnishment interrogatories. These are questions about how much money you have available to pay the garnishment.
The creditor will need to serve the signed order and interrogatories on your employer. Once served, your employer then has 15 days to answer the interrogatories under oath and send it back to the court. The court will review the interrogatories provided by your employer and then issue an order called a Garnishment Judgment. This order will instruct your employer to begin taking money out of your paycheck to pay off the debt you owe to the creditor.
Additional court fees and interest on the debt may increase the total cost of the wage garnishment.
Objecting to a Wage Garnishment in Louisiana
First, it’s important to understand the difference between the money judgment against you and the wage garnishment. If the creditor wins the lawsuit against you for the amount of money owed, you may be able to appeal the judgment. If you didn’t show up to court and the judge issued a default judgment against you, it will be much harder to appeal the decision. Regardless, contact a lawyer to help you file an appeal. The deadlines for appeal in Louisiana are very strict, so it’s important to contact a lawyer as soon as the judgment is issued.
Generally, once the creditor gets a judgment against you, unless you appeal the judgment, there isn’t much you can do to contest the amount. Once the judgment is final and the creditor gets a wage garnishment, you usually can’t object to the garnishment itself. But under Louisiana law, the judge may reopen the case if you file a motion to present evidence “affecting the proper continuance” of the wage garnishment. This means you’re challenging whether or not the creditor can continue to garnish your wages.
How Much of My Paycheck Can Be Taken by Wage Garnishment?
In Louisiana, wage garnishments can last as long as it takes to pay the money you owe back. Judgment creditors are limited in the total amount they can garnish and how much they can garnish from each paycheck. Creditors can only garnish the amount you owe according to the judgment. This can include fees and interest as well as the original debt. If the creditor claims that you owe them judicial interest, they must calculate the amount using the state’s Judicial Interest Calculator.
When it comes to the garnishment amount, Louisiana generally follows federal law. In Louisiana (and under federal law), creditors can only garnish the lesser of the following in any given workweek on a per paycheck basis:
25% of your weekly disposable earnings, or
The amount by which your weekly income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour). This amounts to $217.50.
In Louisiana, disposable earnings are defined as earnings left after all legally required deductions have been made for the pay period. These include income taxes and other deductions. The other 75% of your earnings and any other income that can’t be garnished by a creditor is considered exempt. In Louisiana, other exemptions include Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, and worker’s compensation, among others.
Wage Garnishment Example
Assume your weekly disposable income is $640. This is the amount you take home after all necessary deductions have been made. Under Louisiana law, a judgment creditor can garnish up to 25% of $640, or the amount by which $640 exceeds $217.50, whichever is less. Here’s how the pencils out:
$640 x .25 = $160
$640 - $217.50 = $ 422.50
In this case, the maximum a judgment creditor could garnish per weekly paycheck is $160.
Remember, this formula is for consumer debts. There are special rules, including different maximum garnishments, for special debts like federal back taxes, unpaid child support, or defaulted student loans.
How To Stop a Garnishment in Louisiana
There are generally only two ways to stop wage garnishment in Louisiana. You can either pay the amount you owe off, or you can file for bankruptcy.
If you decide to pay the full amount, you can do this by either paying a one-time lump sum, or you can allow the wage garnishment to continue until the full amount is paid. You can also try negotiating a payment plan directly with the lender that ends the wage garnishment.
If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you have two options: Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge most of your unsecured debts, including many debts that cause a wage garnishment. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, consolidates your debts into a single payment plan. Which one you choose will depend on your situation.
Not everyone qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Upsolve has a free online tool you can use to see if you qualify to file Chapter 7 without an attorney. If your bankruptcy case is more complicated, or you’d like to consult with a lawyer, Upsolve can also help you find a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Are There Any Resources for People Facing Wage Garnishment in Louisiana?
Several legal aid organizations in Louisiana provide legal services to qualifying individuals. To view a list of active legal aid organizations in Louisiana, visit the Louisiana Bar Association’s legal aid directory.
If you’d like self-help materials, you can either contact the court that issued the wage garnishment or you can contact the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
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How can I stop a wage garnishment immediately in Louisiana? ›
There are generally only two ways to stop wage garnishment in Louisiana. You can either pay the amount you owe off, or you can file for bankruptcy. If you decide to pay the full amount, you can do this by either paying a one-time lump sum, or you can allow the wage garnishment to continue until the full amount is paid.How do you beat a garnishment? ›
File an Exemption – In California you may be able to stop the Wage Garnishment through filing an exemption. You may be able to have the wage garnishment stop or reduce the amount being garnished if you can show that the money is needed to support you or your family.What are the garnishment rules in Louisiana? ›
While states are free to impose stricter limits, Louisiana's law is similar to federal law. On a weekly basis, the garnishment can't exceed the lesser of: 25% of your disposable earnings for that week, or. the amount by which your disposable earnings for that week surpasses 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.Can you negotiate a wage garnishment? ›
It is sometimes possible to negotiate a wage garnishment directly with the creditor. Most creditors want to recoup as much of their debt as possible and may be willing to work out a deal. Build your argument before approaching the creditor.How do you write a letter to stop a garnishment? ›
I understand that our creditors may not garnish these payments. I am requesting that you cease from calling us on the phone which you are required to do by the Fair Debt Collection Act (15 USC Sec. 1692). I have cut up all our credit cards and am sending this letter to each one of our creditors.How long can you legally be chased for a debt in Louisiana? ›
Debts from a breach of contract in Louisiana have a prescription period of 10 years beginning from the date of breach or last payment to the debt account. This period covers all types of general contracts except those assigned specific periods following their governing codes within the state's laws.Is there a way around garnishment? ›
If your wages or bank account have been garnished, you may be able to stop it by paying the debt in full, filing an objection with the court or filing for bankruptcy.Can a garnishee order be stopped? ›
In simple terms, a “garnishee order” allows a creditor to force your employer to deduct money from your salary or wages to go toward repayment of an outstanding debt. Such orders can be cancelled, or rescinded by court application.How do you challenge a garnishee order? ›
Usually, a form will be included with the garnishment notice that you can use to write your objection and request a hearing. If it isn't, ask for one from the clerk of the court that sent you the garnishment notice.What is exempt from garnishment in Louisiana? ›
- Use some of your earnings to purchase luxury items or pay for luxury services that are not necessary for support.
- Owe money to an attorney because of a court order in a family law case.
- Owe money for past due child support or spousal support.
What is the most wages can be garnished? ›
The garnishment law allows up to 50% of a worker's disposable earnings to be garnished for these purposes if the worker is supporting another spouse or child, or up to 60% if the worker is not. An additional 5% may be garnished for support payments more than l2 weeks in arrears.Does a garnishment hurt your credit? ›
A garnishment judgment will stay on your credit reports for up to seven years, affecting your credit score.What does a garnishment look like on a pay stub? ›
A garnishment is listed under other deductions on a pay stub. Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act limits the amount of an employee's earnings that may be garnished and protects the employee from being fired if the pay is for only one debt.Can a credit card garnish your wages? ›
Can Credit Card Companies Garnish My Wages? The short answer is yes – but with a large caveat. Creditors may only siphon off part of your paycheck if they have sued you and won. It takes a long time to reach this point, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a rare occurrence.What is garnishment of wages and how can it destroy your credit? ›
Wage garnishment isn't included on your credit report
From a credit perspective, the damage has more or less been done. Since your wages are likely being garnished as a result of having missed payments on one or more debts, your credit may have been dinged, but it was the missed payments that hurt your score.
Business Bank Accounts
Using a business bank account can be an effective way for an individual judgment debtor to avoid a bank account garnishment of personal funds. A person who owns a business can keep funds in their business instead of distributing the funds to themselves.
Satisfaction and release is a document stating that a consumer has paid the full amount of debt that was owed to a creditor under a court judgment. A satisfaction and release prevents creditors from attempting to recover more money from the borrower or consumer.How can I stop a garnishment on my taxes? ›
You can avoid a levy by filing returns on time and paying your taxes when due. If you need more time to file, you can request an extension. If you can't pay what you owe, you should pay as much as you can and work with the IRS to resolve the remaining balance.Can you go to jail for debt in Louisiana? ›
The short answer is no, you cannot go to jail for owing a debt. However, you may have to serve jail time if you are guilty of contempt of court in connection with a debt lawsuit case. Contempt of court is disobeying a court order.What is the judgment debtor rule in Louisiana? ›
So, the law allows the creditor to question the debtor about assets, income and debts. This process is called a Judgment Debtor Examination. It is a legal proceeding, initiated by the creditor, in which the debtor is summoned to appear in Court to answer inquiries by the petitioning creditor.
Can a debt collector sue you in Louisiana? ›
Creditors have a limited period of time in which to file suit over an unpaid debt. Each type of debt has a specific time period in which a lawsuit can be filed against someone who owes a debt, so that the one who is owed can obtain a judgment.Is garnishment a legal process? ›
Garnishment or wage garnishment is the legal procedure by which the employer is required by a court order to withhold the paycheck of an employee to pay back a debt.How do you get around a bank garnishment? ›
- Pay your debts if you can afford it. Make a plan to reduce your debt.
- If you cannot afford to pay your debt, see if you can set up a payment plan with your creditor. ...
- Challenge the garnishment. ...
- Do no put money into an account at a bank or credit union.
- See if you can settle your debt. ...
- Consider bankruptcy.
ADP SmartCompliance for wage garnishments helps you: Automate and expedite order receipt processing and administration. Provide agencies visibility of their payments, orders and more in a dedicated portal. Centralize wage garnishments in a single, online system.Does a garnishee order expire? ›
Garnishees are continuous until the debt is paid or there is no longer any salary/wage to withdraw from. That is, they generally do not expire. The employer may deduct $13 to cover its costs of arranging each deduction. This fee will be deducted if you are making the payments as part of an instalment order.What are the two stages of garnishee order? ›
Order Nisi A Garnishee Order is issued in two stages, first as an Order Nisi and then an Order Absolute.How long is a garnishee order valid for? ›
How long is a garnishee order valid: A garnishee order will be valid until you've finished off your debts, or you can negotiate the length of the order via a debt counsellor.Can a garnishee order be set aside? ›
A Judge hearing the Ex-Parte application may be of the opinion that the stay application ought to be heard first, pending disposal of the garnishee application. This would be simply due to the fact that if the stay application is successful, the garnishee order would be set-aside.What is the difference between garnish and garnishee? ›
Both are properly used as verbs in the sense of putting a lien on property or wages to satisfy a debt. But garnishee is more common (despite objections by lawyers), perhaps because the more usual meaning of garnish is adorn or decorate. As a noun, garnishee means the person served with a legal garnishment.Which type of garnishment order usually takes precedence? ›
If you have more than one wage garnishment against you, then the first party to achieve a garnishment order has priority. However, wage garnishments for support payments (child support or spousal support) have priority over all other garnishments, regardless of when they were ordered.
Is stimulus money exempt from garnishment? ›
Can your stimulus payment be garnished to pay other debts? Yes, rules under the third stimulus check allow garnishment for private debts, such as consumer debt and other private debt. However, outstanding tax debt and child support are protected from garnishment.What is disposable earnings? ›
Disposable earnings are the income an employee receives after taxes and payment obligations have been met that can be spent or invested as they desire. Some deductions, such as taxes and Social Security, are legally mandated and do not count towards an employee's disposable earnings.What is writ of Fieri facias mean? ›
Fieri facias (abbreviated fi. fa.) is a Latin phrase that refers to a writ of execution which directs a state specified officer, usually a sheriff, to take control of a piece of property and sell it in order to satisfy the owner's debt or tax obligations.Can I be garnished twice at the same time? ›
It doesn't matter when the debt or default in payment occurred, only the sequence in which the order was validly served on the employer. While wage garnishment laws place no limit on the number of creditors that can simultaneously submit orders, there is a limit to the total amount that can be garnished.Will my credit go up after garnishment? ›
The three credit bureaus- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion- exempted civil judgments and tax liens as public records entered in a credit report. For this reason, wage garnishment orders or judgments have no direct impact on your credit scores.Can you make payment arrangements after a Judgement? ›
In many instances the debtor is willing to pay, but simply needs more time. If both parties agree, they can sign an agreement to make installment payments to pay off the judgment: Agreement & Order to Pay Judgment with a Payment Plan, CIV-485.How do I rebuild my credit after wage garnishment? ›
The two most important things to rebuild your credit and increase your score over time are paying your accounts on time and keeping your credit usage low. Aim only to use 30% or less of your available credit.What are the negative effects of wage garnishment? ›
A wage garnishment can negatively impact your life in a number of critical ways. Along with taking much needed money out of your paychecks, it also lowers your credit score. When you want to avoid being garnished, it is important that you cure defaulted accounts immediately.Does credit Karma show garnishments? ›
If you have filed for bankruptcy, had your wages garnished by court order or had a judgment against you in a lawsuit, it shows up in the public records/collections section of your credit reports too. So do foreclosures.Does garnishment come out before taxes? ›
The most common wage garnishment is child support, but any debt can be settled with a wage garnishment in court. The deduction is taken out after payroll taxes and withholding but before other tax free deductions, such as insurance and 401(k) contributions.
What are examples of wage garnishments? ›
Wage garnishments are court-ordered deductions taken from an employee's pay to satisfy a debt or legal obligation. Child support, unpaid taxes or credit card debt, defaulted student loans, medical bills and outstanding court fees are common causes for wage garnishments.What type of bank accounts Cannot be garnished? ›
In many states, some IRS-designated trust accounts may be exempt from creditor garnishment. This includes individual retirement accounts (IRAs), pension accounts and annuity accounts. Assets (including bank accounts) held in what's known as an irrevocable living trust cannot be accessed by creditors.Can a creditor take all the money in your bank account? ›
No. Debt collectors can ONLY withdraw funds from your bank account with YOUR permission. That permission often comes in the form of authorization for the creditor to complete automatic withdrawals from your bank account.Who can take money from your bank account without permission? ›
Through the right of offset, banks and credit unions are legally allowed to remove funds from a checking account. They can do this to pay a debt on another account that the consumer has with that same financial institution.Can I negotiate after garnishment? ›
It is sometimes possible to negotiate a wage garnishment directly with the creditor. Most creditors want to recoup as much of their debt as possible and may be willing to work out a deal. Build your argument before approaching the creditor.Can credit card companies garnish bank accounts? ›
If a debt collector has a court judgment, then it may be able to garnish your bank account or wages. Certain debts owed to the government may also result in garnishment, even without a judgment.Does IRS garnishment show on credit report? ›
Credit reporting agencies may find the Notice of Federal Tax Lien and include it in your credit report. An IRS levy is not a public record and should not affect your credit report.Can you stop a IRS garnishment once it starts? ›
The easiest way to release and stop a wage garnishment/levy by the IRS or the State is to pay your taxes in full plus any penalties and interest that may have been assessed as late fees.Does garnishment hurt your credit? ›
A garnishment judgment will stay on your credit reports for up to seven years, affecting your credit score.What states are entirely immune from bank account garnishments? ›
Bank garnishment is legal in all 50 states. However, four states prohibit wage garnishment for consumer debts. According to Debt.org, those states are Texas, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina.