Garnishment Issues

Read this in: Spanish / Español


About Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is a legal process to collect money that you owe for debt. This debt may be unpaid taxes, child support, or other debts. Certain types of income, such as Social Security and disability benefits, are exempt from garnishment.

Most wage garnishments get ordered by a court judgment. The court orders that money gets taken out of your paycheck or your bank account. 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. 

You may have wages garnished without a court order if you owe money to the federal government. This may be the case when you owe taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

There are limits to how much can be garnished from a debtor's wages in Louisiana. Under Louisiana law, the maximum amount that can be garnished is 25% of the debtor's disposable earnings, or the amount by which their disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less. 

You might seek legal advice if your wages are garnished or funds are frozen or removed from your bank account. 

Types Of Wage Garnishment

Garnishment can happen when someone sues you for money and the creditor gets a money judgment against you in court. The garnishment judgment will order your job or bank to take money from your paycheck or bank account. 

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.

To get a judgment, the creditor needs 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. 

The court will look at your money situation and decide how much money to make you pay. 

The amount of the Garnishment Judgment will include the amount you owed, plus court costs, interest, and usually attorney fees from when the court made its Judgment against you.

You will also be charged:

  • For court costs for the separate garnishment lawsuit,
  • For your employer to take out the money for the garnishment.
  • For the court to collect the money.

These extra costs can be double or triple the amount of money you owed at the beginning.

If you have unpaid taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can take money out of your paycheck without suing in court first. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can garnish your wages to pay back taxes without a judgment using a wage levy. This amount of garnishment is based on your tax filings.

Garnishment can happen when you do not pay child support. The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) can take legal action against you for unpaid child support, including wage garnishment. A certain amount of money is withheld from your paycheck by your employer and paid directly to the recipient of the child support payments. 

Federal student loan servicers work with the Department of Education and can garnish your wages to collect on defaulted student loans without a judgment. The government does not have to sue you before taking out money to pay back debt.

If you have unpaid federal student loans, the U.S. Department of Education or anyone collecting for it can only take up to 15% of your earnings after money is taken out for taxes and other things required by law

Wage Garnishment Process

About The Wage Garnishment Process

Wage garnishment is a legal process that allows a creditor to collect a debt by taking a portion of the debtor's wages directly from their paycheck. Here is an overview of the wage garnishment process in Louisiana. 

The Wage Garnishment Process

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. Before wage garnishment can begin, the creditor must first sue the debtor and win a court judgment against them. The judgment will specify the amount of the debt owed, and may also include additional costs such as interest and court fees.

Once a creditor gets a judgment, they will need to file a garnishment petition and order with the court. In Louisiana, this can be called a writ of fieri facias. The court will sign the garnishment order, which officially names the 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. This writ authorizes the employer to withhold a portion of the debtor's wages and send it directly to the creditor.

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. The employer will then have to comply with the court order by withholding the specified amount from the debtor's wages and sending it to the creditor.


The garnishment will continue until the debt is paid off: The garnishment will continue until the debt is paid off in full, including any interest and fees that may have accrued. The employer will continue to withhold the specified amount from the debtor's wages until the debt is satisfied.

Other Issues To Consider

Other Issues To Consider

Here are some other issues related to wage garnishment. 

Other Issues To Consider

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.

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.

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. 

Last Review and Update: Mar 13, 2023
Back to top