A wage garnishment, also known wage attachment, is an order from a court or government agency that is sent to your employer, requiring them to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck which they then send directly to your creditor. Arizona law limits the amount that judgment creditors can take from your paycheck. Creditors can only take nonexempt wages and the amount of which they are allowed to take is limited.
To learn more about how wage garnishments or how to object to a wage garnishment, contact our employment law attorneys by completing the Case Review form to the right.
When Can a Creditor Garnish Your Wages in Arizona?
Most creditors are not able to get a wage garnishment order until they have obtained a court judgment stating that you owe the creditor money. In cases where you are behind on credit card payments or owe on a doctor's bill, for example, those creditors are unable to garnish your wages unless they sue you and win a judgment.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, however. Wages can be garnished without a court judgment for the following:
- Defaulted student loans
- Child support arrears
- Court ordered child support
- Unpaid income taxes
Arizona Wage Garnishment Limitations
The idea behind wage garnishments is that you have enough left in your paycheck to cover living expenses, so there are limits on how much money can be taken. Federal law places limits on wage garnishment amounts. Some states have imposed stricter limits; however, Arizona has not done so. This means that the federal law governs in the state of Arizona.
Of nonexempt disposable earnings, creditors can only take the lesser of the following:
- The amount of your non-exempt weekly earnings that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage.
- 25 percent of your non-exempt weekly earnings.
Special Limits for Child Support, Student Loans and Unpaid Taxes
As stated before, if you owe child support, student loans or taxes, the creditor or the government is able to garnish your wages without a court order. Additionally, the amount that can be taken from your paycheck is different.
If you get behind in child support payments, the other parent is able to get a wage garnishment order from the court. Since the late 80s, all court orders for child support include an automatic income withholding order.
Up to 50 percent of your disposable earnings can be taken to pay child support if you are currently supporting a spouse or child who isn't the subject of the order. If you are not supporting a child or spouse, up to 60 percent of your earnings can be taken. An additional five percent can be taken for support payments over 12 weeks in arrears.
Defaulted Student Loans
The U.S. Department of Education or any entity collecting money on behalf of this agency can garnish your wages without first getting a court judgment if you are in default on a federal student loan. This type of wage garnishment is called an administrative garnishment. In this kind of wage garnishment, the Department of Education is only able to take 15 percent of your disposable income, but cannot take more than 30 times the minimum wage.
If you owe back taxes, the federal government can take your wages without a court order. The amount of money it can take depends entirely on how many dependents you have and your deduction rate.
Additionally, state and local governments may be able to garnish your wages to collect unpaid state and local taxes.
Contact an Arizona Employment Law Attorney Today
At Phillips Dayes Law Firm PC, our staff has experience in all areas of Arizona employment law. In providing our high-quality legal services, we take the time to get to know or clients in an effort to best meet their needs.
Our employment law lawyers are committed to seeking justice and protecting the rights of Arizona residents. We urge you to contact our firm as soon as possible if you believe that your claims are being wrongfully garnished.
For more information about wage garnishment limits in Arizona, including the procedures that employers must follow in carrying out wage garnishment order, please complete the Case Evaluation form on this page to contact our employment law attorneys right away.