What You Need to Know About the Statute of Limitations for Georgia Wage Garnishment
When you have debts you have not paid or are late paying, creditors may seek to garnish your wages. Here’s everything you need to know about the statute of limitations for Georgia wage garnishment.
For wage garnishment in Georgia, the statute of limitations applies to an initial debt or breach of contract and differs based on what kind of debt is overdue. For breaches of written contracts, the statute of limitations is six years from when the debt was due and payable.
What is Wage Garnishment in Georgia?
A wage garnishment is an order that requires employers to take money from an employee’s paycheck and send it directly to a creditor.
Can My Paycheck Be Garnished in Georgia?
Creditors can garnish a paycheck in Georgia for several reasons. Creditors must obtain permission from a court to garnish a person’s wages, and debtors are provided with notice of court proceedings before they occur.
Most creditors cannot garnish someone’s wages without first suing and receiving a money judgment from a court. Exceptions exist for some debts, like taxes, student loans, child support, or alimony.
Georgia Wage Garnishment Limits
Federal law limits how much someone’s wages creditors can take. The garnishment amount is limited to 25% of a person’s weekly earnings. Limitations on how much of someone’s paycheck creditors can garnish differ between kinds of debt, with different limits for unpaid student loans, unpaid taxes, and unpaid child support.
If you are not currently supporting a spouse or child unrelated to the subject of the order, creditors can take up to 60% of your earnings. If you support a spouse or child unrelated to the subject of the order, creditors can take up to 50% of your earnings. Creditors can take an additional 5% of your earnings if you are more than 12 weeks in arrears (late on your payments).
If you have defaulted on a federal student loan, a collection agency or the Department of Education can garnish up to 15% of your pay or an amount equivalent to 30 times the current federal minimum wage per week (as protected under federal law).
If you owe back taxes, the federal government can garnish your wages without a court judgment. Your standard tax deduction and the aggregate amount of deductions for personal exemptions allowed to taxpayers in the year when the garnishment occurs determine your weekly exempt amount.
In Georgia, a creditor can take 25% of your disposable earnings for the week or the amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed $217.50, which is 30 times the minimum wage—whichever amount is smaller.
Georgia Wage Garnishment Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations is the maximum time after an incident within which you can take legal action. For instance, if a statute of limitations is two years, a party has two years from the date of an incident to file a claim.
Georgia does not apply a statute of limitations to wage garnishment since it is not a crime. The violation of a contract leads to wage garnishment. The statute of limitations for breaches of contract differs depending on the type of contract.
Related: Georgia Employee Monitoring Laws
Written contracts have a statute of limitations of six years from when the debt was due and payable.
Oral breaches and open accounts have a statute of limitations of four years from the date of default.
After this point, Georgia cannot garnish your paycheck over existing unpaid debt.
Disputing Wage Garnishment in Georgia
Some ways of disputing or challenging wage garnishment include:
- Demonstrating the initial judgment or debt is invalid
- Arguing social security income is your only income
- Arguing your income is deposited into a joint account where the funds do not only belong to you (the debtor.)
However, it can be expensive and time-consuming to challenge a garnishment, so many attorneys may recommend that you try to settle your debt as quickly as possible. Debt settlement is likely more successful at the garnishment stage if made in a one-time payment to the creditor(s).
FAQs About Georgia Wage Garnishment
Can my employer fire me for wage garnishment in Georgia?
Your Georgia employer cannot fire you for wage garnishment if it is your first instance of indebtedness. However, neither Georgia nor federal law prohibits an employer from terminating an employee with multiple wage garnishments based on more than one indebtedness.
What are disposable earnings in Georgia?
Disposable earnings are the wages left in your paycheck after your employer makes any deductions required by law (including state and federal taxes, social security, and some parts of unemployment insurance).