Garnishment refers to a practice used by creditors to get money that you owe them. Rather than waiting for you to pay a delinquent debt, a creditor can take the money you owe directly from your paycheck. Montana wage garnishment laws have a number of rules regarding wage garnishment. Whether you have received a judgment or have one pending, knowing the law can help you sleep better at night.
To get a garnishment, your creditor must first get a judgment. Montana wage garnishment laws limit the amount of time that a creditor has to obtain a judgment. Open accounts -- credit cards -- have a limitation of five years. Written contracts have a limitation of eight years. Judgments, once passed, have a statute of limitations of 10 years. This includes judgments both in and out of state. At the end of the 10-year period, your garnishment may be renewed.
Creditors may not take all of your money. Montana wage garnishment laws provide for a cap on the amount of wages that a creditor can take. This is 25 percent of your disposable income. In Montana, disposable income is loosely defined and is considered almost everything left after legally mandated deductions are taken. Alternately, you may have up to 30 times the federal minimum wage garnished. The cap is the lesser of the two figures.
Writs of Garnishment
Simply getting a judgment isn't enough for a creditor to garnish your wages. After obtaining a judgment, your creditor must return to court to get a second ruling. This ruling is known as a "writ of garnishment." Montana wage garnishment laws limit the amount of time that a creditor has to obtain such a writ, similar to the statute of limitations on obtaining the first judgment. Your creditors may not garnish your wages for any judgments older than six years.
It is difficult to challenge a wage garnishment. You cannot challenge your basic responsibility to pay the debt at the garnishment stage as this is something that was addressed by earlier hearings. It is not impossible to challenge a garnishment, either at the writ of garnishment stage or after the writ has been issued. Specifically, you can challenge the garnishment on the grounds of procedural impropriety, statute of limitations violations and mistaken information.