A wage garnishment order allows creditors to take money directly from your paycheck. Most of the time, this is only possible after a court has entered a judgment. Here's how Connecticut regulates wage garnishments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated October 21, 2021
Wage garnishment is a debt collection procedure that allows a creditor to take money directly from your paycheck to address an overdue debt. This can be very stressful since it reduces the amount of pay you take home. Luckily, in most cases, creditors must get a court order before they can garnish your wages. If you live in the Constitution State and a judgment has been entered against you, read this article to understand what a wage garnishment is, how it works in Connecticut, and what you can do about it.
What Is a Wage Garnishment?
A wage garnishment is an order from a government agency or court that directs your employer to withhold a certain amount from your paycheck to repay a debt you owe. In most cases, a wage garnishment can’t happen until the creditor sues you and gets a money judgment from the court. In Connecticut, wage garnishments are known as wage executions. Connecticut law and federal law limit the amount of money that can be withheld from your paycheck. They want you to have enough money to meet your living expenses.
Who Can Garnish My Wages in Connecticut?
Creditors, debt collectors, and debt buyers who get a judgment against you can pursue wage garnishment. The creditor that gets the judgment is called the judgment creditor. This creditor can apply for a wage execution if you are not making payments to them on a past-due debt. If the court grants the wage execution order, your employer must withhold a certain amount from your wages.
Some creditors don’t have to get a court order to garnish your wages. This is true for debt such as federal student loans; federal, state, and local taxes; and child support. Those debts have special garnishment laws. This article focuses on wage garnishment for non-special consumer debts, such as credit card debt or medical bills, where a court judgment is needed.
Connecticut Wage Garnishment Process
Wage executions start with a lawsuit. When this happens, you’ll receive a summons and complaint. You have to answer the lawsuit or a default judgment will be entered against you without you getting to tell your side of the story. The judgment will be for a certain amount of money. At this point, the judgment creditor can try to collect the judgment amount by applying for a wage execution order. They can also try to get a bank levy, which lets them take money from your bank account.
Creditors must follow a legal procedure to get a court order allowing them to garnish your wages to pay outstanding debt. But creditors that get a wage execution can’t take your whole paycheck. Connecticut state law limits the amount of money the creditor can take. Also, under Connecticut law, you can’t be fired because of a wage garnishment if you have no more than seven wage execution orders in a calendar year.
Creditors must apply for a wage execution with the clerk of the Connecticut Superior Court. The application requires the judgment creditor to provide information, including the judgment amount and the name and address of your employer. The clerk will sign the execution and forward it to a marshal for service on your employer.
The marshal will serve the employer with the execution order and an exemption claim form. The employer must then provide you with notice of the execution and exemption form. The garnishment form contains a worksheet with a formula which the employer needs to complete regarding your disposable earnings. Your employer is required to deliver the wage execution to you immediately after completing the worksheet. At this point, you have 20 days to file an exemption claim. The employer will begin withholding your wages after 20 days if you don’t submit this.
You can object to the garnishment if it’s not affordable by asking for a modification of the withholding order. If you complete a modification claim and give it to your employer, the employer shouldn’t begin withholding any wages until there’s a court hearing. If you complete an exemption form, the employer is also required to send the exemption form to the court and the court will schedule a hearing. At that hearing, the court will consider review modification claims or exemption forms.
If the creditor is allowed to proceed with the garnishment, the marshal will indicate that the debt has been fully satisfied when the entire judgment amount is paid. At this point, the garnishment will stop.
How Much of My Paycheck Can Be Taken by Wage Garnishment?
The amount creditors can garnish from your paycheck will depend on your disposable income. Your disposable earnings are the wages left after your employer has made deductions that are required by law. Connecticut wage garnishment laws limit how much a creditor can take through a wage execution. Connecticut’s laws offer more protection than federal law. Under state law, if you are receiving welfare or participate in a work incentive earnings program, you can be exempt from garnishment.
Your employer will determine how much to withhold using the worksheet provided in the court documents. The total amount an employer can withhold from an employee’s wages will be the lesser of:
25% of your weekly disposable earnings except if the debt is to pay child support; or
The amount that your weekly disposable income exceeds 40 times the federal hourly minimum wage or the Connecticut minimum fair wage, whichever is greater. Presently, the Connecticut minimum hourly wage is greater than the federal minimum wage.
The Connecticut minimum fair wage is $13. This is greater than the federal minimum hourly wage of $7.25. That means, if your weekly disposable earnings are $520 ($13 x 40) or less, your wages can’t be garnished.
Alimony or spousal support (subject to the wages exemption calculation noted below)
Crime victims’ compensation
Health and disability insurance payments
Interest in any accrued dividend or interest under, or loan value of, any unmatured life insurance contract owned by the filer under which the insured is the filer or the filer’s dependent (not to exceed $4,000)
Pensions for municipal employees, state employees, and teachers
Spendthrift trust funds necessary for the support of filer and resident family members
Social Security benefits
The laws in the Connecticut General Statutes also exempt any wages a person earns who gets public assistance under an incentive earnings program. If you want to claim an exemption, you need to fill out and sign a Claim of Exemption form. You must submit the form to the Connecticut Superior Court. When the clerk of the superior court gets this form, they will notify you and the judgment creditor of the date for a court hearing on your claim.
How To Stop a Garnishment in Connecticut
There are two ways to stop wage garnishment. You can pay the debt in full in a lump-sum payment or with a repayment plan you negotiate with the creditor. You can also let the wage garnishment play out. Wage garnishment stops when the debt is paid in full.
Bankruptcy will also stop a wage execution. When you file bankruptcy, the court will issue an automatic stay. This stops most collection actions, including wage garnishment. Bankruptcy also can wipe out certain debt, like credit cards and medical bills. If you have more than one debt, bankruptcy is a great option to eliminate debt and provide you with debt relief.
Are There Any Resources for People Facing Wage Garnishments In Connecticut?
There are several resources you can turn to for help dealing with a wage execution, including:
The Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Library provides legal resources that can help you better understand debt collection.