Answer: In order to garnish your wages, a creditor must first sue you and obtain a money judgment. After that, the creditor can initiate a wage garnishment. Click here for more information on the procedures to start a wage garnishment in California. A judgment for credit card debt is given no special priority over judgments for other types of debts.
Under California Code of Civil Procedure § 704.070, 75% of your income is automatically exempt from the wage garnishment. The Sheriff’s department will serve your employer with an Earnings Withholding Order (“EWO”) that will instruct the human resources department on how much to withhold from your paycheck. Your employer must provide you a copy of the EWO and the Employee’s Instructions within 10 days after service on your employer by the Sheriff’s Department.
The Employee’s Instructions will contain information on your rights and duties with respect to the garnishment. If you wish to challenge the garnishment for some reason such as needing all of your income to pay rent or other necessities, you will receive instructions on how to file a Claim of Exemption.
We offer both debt collection and bankruptcy services throughout California. Whether you are a creditor seeking to start a wage garnishment or a consumer hoping to stop one, please click here to contact us for further assistance.
About the Author: Carl H. Starrett II has been a licensed attorney since 1993 and is a member in good standing with the California State Bar and the San Diego County Bar Association. Mr. Starrett practices in the areas of bankruptcy, business litigation, construction, corporate planning and debt collection.