Ohio Judgment Collection Law: Wage Garnishment

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Wage garnishment is the most common way of collecting on a money judgment. Please see the Information for Debtors , Information for Creditors and Information for Employers pages of this guide for more help.

Ohio Revised Code

  • Oh. Rev. Code Chapter 2716 Garnishment
  • Oh. Rev. Code Sec. 2716.01 Wages and other property, including bank accounts, may be garnished. However, the 25% limit on garnishment of personal earnings continues even when the money is deposited into a personal checking account. The amount that can be garnished must be determined at the garnishment hearing. The bank has no later responsibility to sort out how much to send to creditors.
  • Oh. Rev. Code Sec. 2716.041 Stacking of garnishments. Note that tax levies and child and spousal support are higher priority than other judgments for money. The total amount garnished cannot be more than 25% of the employee's monthly disposable earnings.
  • Oh. Rev. Code Sec. 2329.66 Exemptions from garnishment, including, but not limited to, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, disability payments, OWF payments, or child support or spousal support, and most pensions.
  • Oh. Rev. Code 2716.05 No employer shall discharge an employee solely because of the successful garnishment of the employee's personal earnings by only one judgment creditor in any twelve-month period
  • Oh. Rev. Code Sec. 3121.39 Employer cannot fire you for having a wage garnishment for child or spousal support.
  • Oh. Rev. Code Sec. 2329.70 Application for appointment of trustee.

Links and Forms

  • Franklin County Small Claims Court Forms Scroll down to "Collect a Small Claims Judgment". Use these forms if you are collecting a judgment from the Franklin County Municipal Court Small Claims Division. Very useful information for any judgment debtor.
  • Franklin County Clerk of Courts - Civil Division Click on Forms and Fees and scroll down to the Garnishment section. Use these forms if you are collecting a judgment from the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
  • Garnishment Information From the Legal Aid Society of Columbus
  • Motion for Judgment Debtor Exam Franklin County Common Pleas Court
  • Civil Filing Fees & Cost For $51 you can get a Certificate of Judgment from the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
  • Instructions for Filing Foreign Judgment
  • Franklin County Municipal Court Garnishment Forms Use these forms for collecting a judgment in Franklin County Municipal Court - Civil Division.
  • Motion to Revive Dormant Judgment PDF
  • OHIO’S NEWLY ENACTED RECEIVERSHIP STATUTE Meyers and Roman Law Firm explains this statute, which can help in collecting a judgment.
  • Things to Know About Wage Garnishment in Ohio Amourgis & Assoc. law firm
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  • Last Updated: Oct 4, 2023 1:29 PM
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2019 Ohio Revised Code Title [13] XIII COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS - OHIO UNIFORM COMMERCIAL CODE Chapter 1321 - SMALL LOANS Section 1321.33 - Wage assignments for support of spouse or children.

The limitations and regulations of sections 1321.01 to 1321.19 and 1321.31 of the Revised Code do not apply to assignments of, or orders for, wages for the support of a spouse or children when such assignments or orders are made to comply with an order of a court of record. The employee may assign whatever portion of his earnings that may be required to comply with the court order for support. Effective Date: 01-01-1979 .

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Involuntary and Voluntary Pay Deductions: Ohio

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Vicki M. Lambert , The Payroll Advisor

  • An employer must begin withholding to satisfy a child support order no later than in the first pay period that occurs after 14 business days following the date the order was mailed or transmitted to the employer. An employer must remit the amount withheld within seven business days after the employee is paid. If an employee is terminated, the employer must file a Termination Notice within 10 business days of the termination. Employers are permitted to withhold an administrative fee. The limits of the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act apply to child support withholding in Ohio. Employers that have 50 or more employees and remit child support payments for at least one employee must remit the payments by electronic funds transfer. See Child Support Withholding .
  • The maximum amount that can be deducted from an employee's wages to satisfy a creditor garnishment is 25% of disposable earnings, or the amount that exceeds 30 times the current federal minimum wage. Employers also may deduct a small processing fee from the amount withheld for each pay period in which withholding occurred. See Creditor Garnishment Withholding .
  • Wage assignments must be made in writing. Certain conditions determine whether a wage assignment is valid, and priority rules apply when there are multiple wage assignments. There are limits on the amount of wages that an employee may assign and on how many assignments the employee may enter into. See Voluntary Wage Assignments .
  • An employer may be required to withhold from an employee's wages to satisfy a tax levy for unpaid state income tax. State tax levies generally must be paid in full within 60 days of the date they are issued. No amount is exempt from levy. See Tax Levies .

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wage assignment ohio

Wage Garnishment in Ohio: 5 Things You Need to Know

wage assignment ohio

The Ohio court garnishes your wages for several reasons. Some of the most common reasons for wage garnishment  in Ohio include payment of back taxes, child support, spousal support, vehicle registration, and court-ordered debt. Court-ordered debt includes judgments related to debt collection lawsuits (personal judgments).

Wage garnishment is a common legal tool creditors use to collect bad debts. However, garnishing wages can create a devastating financial burden on individuals and families. For example, if someone is living in and is on the Ohio minimum wage of $9.30, garnishment can be debilitating.

Fortunately, you have options for stopping a wage garnishment in Ohio.

Below are answers to frequently asked questions about wage garnishment in Ohio. Even though there are numerous reasons your wages could be garnished, we limit the information in this article to wage garnishments for debt collection.

OH Wage Garnishment Calculator

How much can you be garnished? Take the Ohio wage garnishment calculator below to help you find out.

Our wage garnishment calculator is a free tool available online. After entering your information, the calculator estimates the amount of your wage garnishment. You also receive a detailed analysis of your debt-relief options to stop wage garnishment, including the pros and cons of each option.

You can request additional information free of charge after reviewing the results.

Wage Garnishment Process in Ohio

The wage garnishment process in Ohio depends on the type of debt being collected.

For example, there are specific procedures for withholding child support and spousal support from a person’s earnings. The federal government does not need a court order to withhold up to 15% of your earnings for unpaid student loans . Likewise, the Internal Revenue Service can garnish your wages for back taxes without a court order.

However, the wage garnishment process for general creditors is different. Let’s take a look at that process in more detail.

Obtaining a Personal Judgment Against You

A creditor cannot automatically garnish your wages for an unpaid debt. First, the creditor must obtain a personal judgment against you for that debt by filing a debt collection lawsuit. Common debt collection lawsuits involve credit card debts, medical bills, personal loans, repossession or foreclosure deficiencies, and other unsecured debts.

The creditor files a complaint with the court and serves you a copy of the complaint. The complaint includes the facts of the case, a summary of the law, a description of the debt, and the amount you owe. The Summons state how long you have to respond to the lawsuit, generally 30 days.

The court sets a trial date if you file an answer or response to the lawsuit. The court schedules a default hearing if you do not respond to the lawsuit before the deadline. The creditor proves it served you with the lawsuit at the default hearing. It also offers evidence proving your debt and showing you did not pay the debt.

If the creditor’s documents are sufficient to prove you owe the debt, the court enters a default judgment. A default judgment is a court order stating that you owe a specific amount of money to the creditor.

The judge’s final order and judgment are filed with the clerk of court. The creditor may then take further legal action to collect the debt, including requesting a wage garnishment order.

Obtaining a Wage Garnishment Order

The creditor requests a writ of execution from the court. Here is an example writ of execution for Ohio . The court attaches an earnings withholding order to the writ authorizing an employer to withhold money from your earnings to the judgment.

The garnishment packet is served on your employer. Your employer begins garnishing your wages with the first paycheck you receive after 10 days from the date of service.

In Ohio, the levying officer (a sheriff or marshal) is the person responsible for collecting the money from the employer and sending it to the creditor. The wage garnishment order or Earnings Withholding Order provides an employer with all information necessary to begin the wage garnishment.

Ohio places wage garnishments in a specific priority. The priority is:

  • First Priority – Wage and Earnings Assignment Order for Support
  • Second Priority – Earnings Withholding for Support
  • Third Priority – Earnings Withholding for Taxes
  • Fourth Priority – Earnings Withholding for Elder or Dependent Adult Financial Abuse
  • Fifth Priority – Earnings Withholding Order

Personal judgments for medical bills, credit card debts, personal loans, and other unsecured debts fall into the fifth category. The order with the highest priority receives payment first. If the employer receives two orders with the same priority, the order received first receives priority.

Your employer must provide you with a copy of the garnishment order. You may challenge the garnishment in court, but the deadline for filing a challenge is short. You may have just 10 days after you receive the wage garnishment to ask for exemptions.

If you take no action, your employer begins deducting money from your paycheck and continues to deduct funds until the debt is paid in full.

How To Stop Wage Garnishment in Ohio

The first defense you have to stop wage garnishment is to fight the debt collection lawsuit. Filing a response to the lawsuit allows you to argue your case before a judge. Consulting a lawyer as soon as you receive the debt collection lawsuit is the best way to understand your rights and your options for defending yourself against the lawsuit.

If the creditor obtains a wage garnishment order, there are several things you could do to stop wage garnishment in Ohio.

File for Bankruptcy Relief

Filing for bankruptcy in Ohio may be common option to stop a wage garnishment because many people in Ohio cannot afford a garnishment when living check to check. Including wage garnishment bankruptcies, there were 22,623 bankruptcies filed in the year ending June 30, 2021.

Filing bankruptcy stops wage garnishment. Creditors must stop all debt collection efforts when you file a bankruptcy petition, including garnishing your wages.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Ohio

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Ohio can be the most affordable option. That said, you often have to qualify for bankruptcy using the Ohio bankruptcy means test and income limits. For example, below are the income limits for bankruptcy cases filed on or after May 15, 2022 for Ohio. 

Please note that the income limit is an additional $9,900 per household member greater than 9,

If the underlying debt is dischargeable in bankruptcy, the creditor cannot restart the wage garnishment when you complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Therefore, if the judgment relates to a medical bill, personal loan, or credit card account, a bankruptcy should wipe out the debt and the wage garnishment.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Ohio

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Ohio may help with a garnishment, but it’s often more expensive and can take 3 or 5 years to complete. 

Let’s discuss if your garnishment is not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If your wage garnishment is for a debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy, you might want to discuss filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy with a bankruptcy lawyer. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can allow you to repay certain debts over five years that you cannot discharge.

Cost to file bankruptcy in Ohio

You’re probably wondering how much it costs to file bankruptcy in Ohio . The cost to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338, and the cost to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $313. This is just the filing fee, and you may be able to get that waived if you are under the fee poverty guidelines for Ohio as seen below.

That said, the Chapter 7 attorney costs in Ohio may range from $900 - $1500 and the Chapter 13 attorney costs in Ohio may be approximately $3500 - $4000.

Specific cities may have different attorney fee ranges. For example, the estimated attorney fee is $1,250 in Cleveland and $1,170 in Cincinnati

Pay the Debt to the Creditor

Paying the debt in full stops the wage garnishment. However, if you cannot pay the debt in full, you might be able to negotiate with the creditor for a settlement. For example, the creditor may agree to accept a lower amount to pay off the wage garnishment if you pay the amount in one payment within 30 to 60 days.

However, if you negotiate a wage garnishment settlement with the creditor, make sure that you obtain a written agreement outlining the settlement terms before submitting payment to the creditor. It is always wise to have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign it or submit payment.

File an Exemption in Ohio

You can request an exemption from the wage garnishment because you need the money to support yourself and your family. You must file a wage garnishment exemption form to request this relief. You can also try to use an example letter to stop wage garnishment if you have income that is protected from debt wage garnishments such as social security income.

Please note that some states allow for you to request for an exemption and other states may not allow you to apply.

How Do I File a Garnishment Exemption in Ohio?

Let’s say you are living in Columbus or Cleveland and have seen your rental prices sky rocket, making unable to pay the necessary living expenses for yourself and your family, the court might exempt you from a wage garnishment. However, you will not receive an exemption if you:

  • Use some of your earnings to purchase luxury items or pay for luxury services that are not necessary for support
  • Owe money to an attorney because of a court order in a family law case
  • Owe money for past due child support or spousal support
  • The debt is for wages owed to a former employee

To request an exemption, you must file a Claim of Exemption from Wage Garnishment with the levying officer (the marshal or sheriff who issued the Earnings Withholding Order). You will also need to complete and file a Financial Statement with the Claim of Exemption form.

You must explain why the wages the creditor wants to garnish from your pay should be exempt. Therefore, you need to include details about your and your family’s specific needs.

For example, if you have recurring medical bills because of an illness or medical condition, explain the situation and include proof of the recurring medical expenses. The more details you can provide, the better your chance of receiving an exemption.

The form allows you to request a total exemption. In other words, no money would be taken from your paycheck. It also allows you to propose an amount to be withheld each pay period to pay the creditor. Some individuals propose an amount they can afford to pay toward the debt that is less than the amount of the wage withholding order.

What Happens After I File a Wage Garnishment Exemption?

The creditor can agree to the Claim of Exemption by not responding to your request. If so, the sheriff tells your employer to stop withholding funds from your paycheck. However, the court schedules a hearing if the creditor opposes the exemption. You can offer evidence and witnesses at the hearing to help prove that you need the funds to support yourself and your family.

The judge has the final decision. If he grants your exemption, you receive your money back that has been withheld, and the wage garnishment stops. If the judge rules for the creditor, the wage garnishment continues.

Wage Garnishment Laws in Ohio

How much can you be garnished? The garnishment laws vary by state. There are federal laws that govern wage garnishments too. Let’s look at the Ohio wage garnishment laws .

Ohio state law limits the amount of earnings that can be withheld from each paycheck. The amount is often based on your disposable earnings and the applicable minimum wage.

Maximum Wage Garnishment Amounts for Most Judgment Holders

The wage garnishment amount in Ohio is the following:

"Wages and other property, including bank accounts, may be garnished. However, the 25% limit on garnishment of personal earnings continues even when the money is deposited into a personal checking account."

Therefore, in general, an employer must calculate your disposable income AND the amount you would make if you were paid the Ohio minimum wage. For example, the Ohio minimum wage is $9.30.

However, some cities have established a higher minimum wage. Therefore, employers need to use the minimum wage they would pay an employee based on location and company size.

Earnings and Disposable Income

Earnings include all money paid to you by your employer for services. Your earnings subject to wage garnishment include, but might not be limited to hourly wages, salaries, overtime pay, bonuses, commissions, vacation pay, and sick pay.

After deducting the required withholding amounts, the amount remaining is your disposable earnings for the pay period. Required withholding includes:

  • Federal income tax
  • State income tax
  • Local income tax
  • Social Security
  • Mandatory retirement plans

Voluntary deductions are not considered allowed withholdings for calculating disposable income. Therefore, you cannot deduct the amount you pay for health insurance, voluntary retirement accounts, or life insurance.

Limits for Other Ohio Wage Garnishments

Other wage garnishments have different withholding rules. For example, the above figures do not apply for wage orders regarding child support. As a result, you could pay more in child support than you would have to pay a creditor for a personal judgment.

Federal law allows the U.S. Department of Education to withhold up to 15% of a person’s disposable earnings for unpaid federal student loans . However, an amount equal to 30 times the federal minimum wage is exempt from this withholding.

The Internal Revenue Service may also garnish your wages for unpaid taxes. The garnishment amount is based on your filing status and the number of dependents. The IRS provides a table for exempt income from wage garnishment.

Child support orders include wage withholding provisions. The IRS and the U.S. Department of Education do not need court orders to garnish your wages for student loans and federal taxes.

Are There Any Garnishment Exceptions Due to COVID?

Some states have enacted executive orders to help with garnishments due to COVID. Unfortunately, many of those exemptions may have expired. 

Do You Need Help With a Ohio Wage Garnishment or Other Debt Relief?

Dealing with debt problems can be overwhelming. However, you do not need to handle it alone. We can help. Take the wage garnishment calculator to estimate your wage garnishment amount and see personalized costs to stop wage garnishment.

At Ascend, we provide free services to individuals who need debt relief. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique. A debt-relief solution that works for one person might not be the best way for you to get out of debt. We work with you to analyze your financial situation and review all debt relief options to find the best one that works for your situation.

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What Is Wage Assignment?

Definition and example of wage assignment, how wage assignment works, wage assignment vs. wage garnishment.

10’000 Hours / Getty Images

A wage assignment is when creditors can take money directly from an employee’s paycheck to repay a debt.

Key Takeaways

  • A wage assignment happens when money is taken from your paycheck by a creditor to repay a debt.
  • Unlike a wage garnishment, a wage assignment can take place without a court order, and you have the right to cancel it at any time.
  • Creditors can only take a portion of your earnings. The laws in your state will dictate how much of your take-home pay your lender can take.

A wage assignment is a voluntary agreement to let a lender take a portion of your paycheck each month to repay a debt. This process allows lenders to take a portion of your wages without taking you to court first.

Borrowers may agree to allow a lender to use wage assignments, for example, when they take out payday loans . The wage assignment can begin without a court order, although the laws about how much they can take from your paycheck vary by state.

For example, in West Virginia, wage assignments are only valid for one year and must be renewed annually. Creditors can only deduct up to 25% of an employee’s take-home pay, and the remaining 75% is exempt, including for an employee’s final paycheck.

If you agree to a wage assignment, that means you voluntarily agree to have money taken out of your paycheck each month to repay a debt.

State laws govern how soon a wage assignment can take place and how much of your paycheck a lender can take. For example, in Illinois, you must be at least 40 days behind on your loan payments before your lender can start a wage assignment. Under Illinois law, your creditor can only take up to 15% of your paycheck. The wage assignment is valid for up to three years after you signed the agreement.

Your creditor typically will send a Notice of Intent to Assign Wages by certified mail to you and your employer. From there, the creditor will send a demand letter to your employer with the total amount that’s in default.

You have the right to stop a wage assignment at any time, and you aren’t required to provide a reason why. If you don’t want the deduction, you can send your employer and creditor a written notice that you want to stop the wage assignment. You will still owe the money, but your lender must use other methods to collect the funds.

Research the laws in your state to see what percentage of your income your lender can take and for how long the agreement is valid.

Wage assignment and wage garnishment are often used interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing. The main difference between the two is that wage assignments are voluntary while wage garnishments are involuntary. Here are some key differences:

Once you agree to a wage assignment, your lender can automatically take money from your paycheck. No court order is required first, but since the wage assignment is voluntary, you have the right to cancel it at any point.

Wage garnishments are the results of court orders, no matter whether you agree to them or not. If you want to reverse a wage garnishment, you typically have to go through a legal process to reverse the court judgment.

You can also stop many wage garnishments by filing for bankruptcy. And creditors aren’t usually allowed to garnish income from Social Security, disability, child support , or alimony. Ultimately, the laws in your state will dictate how much of your income you’re able to keep under a wage garnishment.

Creditors can’t garnish all of the money in your paycheck. Federal law limits the amount that can be garnished to 25% of the debtor’s disposable income. State laws may further limit how much of your income lenders can seize.

Illinois Legal Aid Online. “ Understanding Wage Assignment .” Accessed Feb. 8, 2022.

West Virginia Division of Labor. “ Wage Assignments / Authorized Payroll Deductions .” Accessed Feb. 8, 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor. “ Fact Sheet #30: The Federal Wage Garnishment Law, Consumer Credit Protection Act's Title III (CCPA) .” Accessed Feb. 8, 2022.

Sacramento County Public Law Library. “ Exemptions from Enforcement of Judgments in California .” Accessed Feb. 8, 2022.

District Court of Maryland. “ Wage Garnishment .” Accessed Feb. 8, 2022.

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Cope Law Offices, LLC

Ohio Bankruptcy Attorneys

Last Updated on May 18, 2021 By Russ Cope

Wage Garnishment in Ohio: What Consumers Should Know

Ohio Wage Garnishment Laws

Say you’ve made some purchases on your credit card, and you owe a couple thousand dollars. Then something unexpected happens (maybe your roof starts leaking or your car needs new tires) and you find yourself a bit short one month. You plan to pay in full the next month, but the payment is too high with the interest and fees. You know that you have to make the minimum payment every month, but it’s hard to catch up once you get behind. With interest and fees accruing, the day may come when you can’t make the minimum payment.

When will my account go to collections?

Collection lawsuits in ohio, what does it mean if a collector has a judgment against me, the demand letter and wage garnishment, avoiding wage garnishment: debt repayment and credit counseling, objecting to garnishment, what can a debt collector in ohio take, bankruptcy may be a solution.

When you miss a minimum payment, the credit card company will contact you about your default. They may send letters or call. They’ll try to work out a payment plan with you — they’d rather do that than deal with the hassle of collections . If you can’t come to an agreement about a payment plan or if you do start a plan but miss one or more payments, the credit card company will turn your debt over to a collections agency or a debt buyer. This whole process generally takes three to six months from your first missed payment.

See also: Debt Collection Laws in Ohio

What happens when my account has gone to collections?

First, expect the debt collectors to start contacting you immediately, and probably every day. They generally get paid based on what they collect, so they’re motivated. They’ll try to convince you to pay. If you can’t or won’t, they’ll sue. They’ll get a court judgment for the debt and then they’ll get a court order allowing them to garnish your bank accounts and wages or seize your property as payment.

When you’re sued for debt collection, you’ll receive notice of the lawsuit. In Ohio, you have 28 days to respond to the suit. You have two options:

If you believe that you don’t owe the money or that you owe less than you’re being sued for, you can file an answer explaining your position. You’ll send the answer in to the court and it will set a date for a hearing. At the hearing, you’ll go in person to explain to the judge why you either don’t owe the money or owe a different amount. You should bring all of the paperwork relating to the debt with you, including any communication between you and your creditor or the collection agency. After the judge has heard both sides of the story, she’ll enter a judgment either for you or for the creditor. The judge may decide that you don’t owe the debt (because it was an error in the first place or because you already paid it) or that you do owe a particular amount. You may be able to appeal, but the appeals process is long and expensive and you’re not guaranteed a different outcome.

If you don’t want to dispute the debt, you don’t have to file an answer. The court will find in favor of the creditor. This is called a “default judgment.” If default judgment is entered against you, you can’t appeal.

Whether you file an answer or not, the judgment is permanent. It means that the creditor has a concrete legal right to payment from you in the amount of the judgment. If you don’t pay up, your judgment creditor can ask the court for permission to take payment from you in several ways. They can levy your bank accounts or place a lien on your home . They can also garnish your wages.

When a creditor gets a levy against your bank account, your bank will freeze the account and release the funds in it to the court. You’ll receive notice of the levy. The notice will inform you of your right to a hearing to fight the levy; you’ll have to request that hearing by the deadline on the notice or the court will release the funds to your creditors. Creditors can claim anything in your accounts, but must leave you with at least $450. Ohio law protects, or “exempts,” that amount from seizure by creditors.

See also: Ohio’s Homestead Exemption Protects Your House in Bankruptcy

When a creditor gets a court order against you for collection, it must send you a letter between 15 and 45 days after the judgment informing you of the judgment and listing your options: pay the debt or expect wage garnishment. That’s called a “demand letter.” You may be able to make a payment to the creditor and put the whole issue to rest. You may not, in which case your creditor will likely attempt to garnish your wages.

When a creditor garnishes your wages, your employer will receive a court order stating that a certain amount of your wages must be withheld and paid to the creditor. Your employer doesn’t have a choice in the matter — they’re on the legal hook if they don’t comply. You can avoid formal garnishment by agreeing to voluntarily pay the amount that would have been garnished. You’re still out that much cash but the garnishment won’t show up on your credit report, saving you a few points on your credit score . If you fail to make the voluntary payments, your creditor will simply initiate formal garnishment.

When you receive the demand letter, you can pay up or expect garnishment. However, you also have two other options: you can apply for a city or county trustee to manage your debt repayment or you can retain a credit counseling service . If you apply for a trustee, you’ll make voluntary payments of the amount that would have been garnished to the trustee. The trustee will then distribute that amount among your creditors until your debts are repaid. If you use a credit counseling service, the service will negotiate a payment plan with your creditors. Once they agree to the plan, they can’t garnish your wages.

In either case, if you miss a payment, you’ll be stuck with wage garnishment again. If you can keep up with voluntary payments, however, either of these is a better option than wage garnishment, which has a serious effect on your credit score.

How to Stop Wage Garnishment in Ohio

When you receive notice of wage garnishment, you have one last chance to dispute it. Under Ohio law, some sources of income are completely exempt from wage garnishment. These include Social Security retirement or disability benefits, unemployment benefits, and worker’s compensation. In general, most government-provided benefits are exempt . If some or all of your income comes from exempt sources, you can dispute the wage garnishment notice and request a hearing. The notice will include the information and forms you need to dispute the garnishment. Make sure to respond within the time listed on the notice or you will lose your chance to dispute the garnishment.

At the hearing, you’ll have a chance to show the court that your income is exempt. You’ll need to provide proof that you do, in fact, have income in the reported amount from an exempt source (documentation of your Social Security benefits, for example). If all of your income is exempt, you’re completely protected from wage garnishment. At the very least, your exempt income is safe.

Wage garnishment is a difficult situation, but the law still protects your rights. You may need to object to wage garnishment if your creditors are acting inappropriately. If the creditor is taking too much money from your check, you should object to the garnishment in writing to the court. You should also object if you’ve already paid the debt in full but the garnishment has continued. Finally, you should object if the creditor did not follow proper procedure. For example, a creditor that failed to send you a demand letter has no right to garnish your wages and the court will ensure that the garnishment stops.

It can be frightening to deal with the aggressive tactics of debt collectors even before they have a legal judgment against you. Once judgment is issued, it can be even worse. You legally owe the debt and they legally have the right to collect, even if it means taking the car out of your driveway and the cash out of your checking account. If you have non-exempt income, they can take that, too. Thankfully, while the law gives them the means to collect what you owe, it also protects some of your assets.

In Ohio, a debt collector may only garnish up to 25% of your non-exempt wages and must leave at least $425 in your bank account. They also may not seize a vehicle worth less than $3,225. Better yet, the law protects $125,000 in home equity from creditors and $10,775 in aggregate value of household goods. The law also protects an additional $1,225 in equity if other exemptions aren’t enough to cover you (please note that these values change based on inflation every three years). Ohio R.C. § 2329.66 . Finally, your government benefits are exempt. Creditors can’t seize any part of your Social Security, workers’ compensation, spousal or child support, pensions, veterans benefits, or any other state or federal program benefits.

Compared to the protections offered in the rest of the nation, Ohio falls somewhere in the middle . An individual earning minimum wage will be left with only $235 weekly if collectors garnish 25% of his wages — that’s about $65 under the federal poverty level for a couple and only half the federal poverty level for a family of four. Ohio offers better-than-average protection of home equity and household goods, but leaving only $425 in a debtor’s bank account and seizing any vehicles worth more than $3,450 leaves debtors with very little if they don’t own a home. Many consumer advocates suggest that the law doesn’t do enough to protect debtors in Ohio.

If you’re facing collections and you’re out of options, consider filing for bankruptcy . When you file for bankruptcy, you invoke the protection of the automatic stay . The automatic stay will stop all collection actions and foreclosure processes against you for the duration of the bankruptcy. It can give you the room you need to get your finances back on track. You will likely be able to keep most, if not all, of your important assets and at the end of the bankruptcy process, your remaining unsecured debt will be discharged. That means it’s forgiven and you won’t have to face the threat of debt collectors again.

If you’re struggling with debt and debt collectors, speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney . He or she can help protect your rights from debt collectors and can work with you to determine the best options for your financial future.  Contact us today  — we’ll be happy to help you!

Wage Garnishment Infographic

About Russ Cope

Russ B. Cope is dedicated to legal standards that go far beyond filing cases — he is interested in your goals. Russ wants to be certain that each client is making an informed decision that will make their life better, and thrives on the interaction between lawyer and client.

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Reader Interactions

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May 3, 2016 at 6:16 pm

I’m starting a new job,with a family of four.I’ll be making ten dollars an hour, forty hrs. a week can i still be garnished?and if so, how much? Thank you.

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August 29, 2017 at 3:13 pm

Good morning, I have a quick question. If you are getting garnished already from present job and you get a second job, can you be garnished again from your second job?

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June 26, 2022 at 8:10 pm

I do not have a bank account but I pay bills out of my father’s checking account. Can a creditor garnish his bank account?

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July 5, 2022 at 8:59 pm

Ohio is what we call a “title state”, meaning that we don’t care about the particular use or location of a thing; when establishing ownership, the only consideration is who is on the title. So, in this case, it doesn’t matter that you use the account. If your name is not on the account, then your creditors cannot garnish the bank account.

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September 26, 2023 at 10:34 pm

I have a debt from 17 years ago, and just received a letter for a garnishment that the creditor sent through my employer. The letter has 3 different dates on it, so I’m not sure what time frame I actually have to dispute the garnishment. Can you get garnished from a 17 year old debt?

September 29, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Hey, Janette. Unfortunately, it is still quite possible for a creditor to collect on a debt that is 17 years old. Statutes of Limitations limit the amount of time that a creditor can bring a lawsuit. So long as the lawsuit was initiated within that time, then they can obtain a judgment. The judgment can then be renewed for years and years, allowing them to garnish wages and bank accounts if they know where you work or bank. I don’t think that you’ll have any grounds to dispute the garnishment unless there’s more to this story. Feel free to reach out so we can discuss other ways to protect your paycheck.

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