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What to know about wage garnishment in Virginia

A wage garnishment is an order for an employer to withhold a certain portion of an employees paycheck. The money that is withheld goes to a creditor, a tax authority or any other entity that is owed money. Typically, wage garnishment is used to repay tax debt or other debts owed to the government. Wage garnishment is regulated in part by Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act.

The terms of the act stipulate how much of a person's paycheck can be garnished. It also protects employees from being terminated if wages are only being garnished to pay a single debt. However, this act does not say anything about matters unrelated to how much is being garnished or if an employee is terminated for having wages garnished. The law applies to anyone with personal earnings such as wages or salaries.

How much may be garnished depends on an employee's earnings in a given pay period. Nothing can be garnished if disposable earnings are less than $217.50 in that time period. Disposable earnings are what is left over after deductions are made for federal, state and local payroll and income taxes. The maximum that can be garnished is 25 percent of any disposable earnings over more than $290 a week.

Different rules apply to child support, however. Those who owe child support may wish to talk to an attorney. Wages may be garnished or other assets seized to pay back support. Those who fail to make payments may spend time in jail, which may have an impact on custody or visitation rights. Parents who are having trouble keeping up with their current payments may ask for a modification to help reduce their financial obligation to the custodial parent in the future.

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