Most creditors must follow a lengthy legal process to get an order from the court, called a wage execution, that enables them to garnish your wages to pay your overdue debts. Federal and state governments, however, can garnish your wages without a court order to pay back taxes or student loans. If a creditor gets a wage execution, Connecticut law limits the amount of money the creditor can take and protects you from being fired because of the garnishment, provided you have no more than seven wage execution orders in a calendar year.
Obtaining a Wage Execution
If a creditor sues you in court for the amount of your debt and you lose the case or don't show up to court, the judge will issue a court order instructing you to pay the debt. Once a creditor has a judgement against you, it can request a wage execution to garnish your wages. However, some Connecticut judges have refused to grant a wage execution until a creditor establishes a monthly payment plan and the debtor fails to make the required monthly payments.
Contacting Your Employer
A creditor will provide a copy of a wage execution to your employer, which must comply with the order. You have 20 days from the date of service on the wage execution before your employer makes any deductions. During that 20-day period, you can file an Exemption and Modification Claim Form to request a hearing to reduce the amount of the garnishment. No money will be taken from your pay until you have the hearing and the judge makes a decision. At the hearing, you or your lawyer must explain why the wage garnishment won't leave you with the amount of money you need to support you and your family.
The limits that the state of Connecticut imposes on the amount of money a creditor can take through a wage garnishment are more prohibitive than those the federal government has established. You must tell the judge if you are receiving welfare or working under a work incentive earnings program, and the judge will exempt that income from garnishment. Unless the wage garnishment is for child support, a creditor can never take more than 25 percent of your take-home pay. You must be left with at least 40 times the Connecticut minimum fair wage, or $360 a week as of 2015.
If your wages are being garnished for child support, the order is called a withholding order and the amount of money that can be garnished is different from a wage execution. If you earn $145 or more per week, you must be left with $123.25 of take-home pay. If you earn less than $145 per week, you must be left with 85 percent of your take-home pay. You have 15 days from the date of the notice to withhold your wages for child support to request a hearing and ask the court to reduce the amount of the withholding order.