Garnishment Laws in Virginia

Garnishment, in legal terms, refers to the attachment of a part of an individual’s wages by her employer (under the court’s decree) for the purposes of making repayments to a creditor, on behalf of that individual. It is also sometimes referred to as wage garnishment. The practice of wage garnishment as a means of legal redress, for potentially delinquent or default cases, can be traced back to roman times. Apart from a bad loan, other instances that can make an individual eligible for garnishment is when she fails to pay federal or state fines, and for situations such as providing for child support.

Garnishment Laws in Virginia

While US has federal guidelines related to employment and wages (under the aegis of the United States Department of Labor) for wage garnishment, which are applicable in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories and possessions. All companies have to necessarily honor any wage garnishment orders, which are typically issued by family courts, state agencies or IRS.

Further, Individual states may choose to change or adapt these laws to a certain extent, so as to make them more appropriate to their socio-economic context. If the state’s garnishment law stipulates a different amount from the federal law, then the law resulting in the smaller amount being garnished will prevail. The state of Virginia also has its own wages garnishment laws.

Garnishment law will stipulate a maximum amount that can be deducted from an employee’s salary; and it will also prevent the employer from discharging the employee if her wages are garnished. However, federal law does not rule out the option of discharging if the employee’s wage is garnished to two or three different creditors.

Any voluntary decisions (and without a court order) of the debtor to have deductions from her weekly wages, is however not construed as garnishment.

Specifically, the law stipulates that the maximum amount of an individual’s weekly earnings that can be attached towards garnishment should be less of 25% of earnings or the amount by which it exceeded thirty times the minimum wage.

For the purpose of wage calculation, disposable income should be considered instead of gross wage, i.e., the nett pay received by the employee after making all legal deductions, taxes, state unemployment insurance, or employee retirement related investments. However, if the employee is making any voluntary or charitable contributions, union dues, personal insurance premiums, savings or optional retirement plans, etc., then those will note be taken into considerations. Further, the law also stipulates the absolute maximum amount that can be garnished in a time-frame be limited. This is irrespective of any wage garnishment.


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