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 Kansas regulates wage garnishments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated December 14, 2021
Wage garnishment is when some of your paycheck is withheld by your employer and given to your creditor to pay a debt you owe. It’s an aggressive form of debt collection, and it’s only allowed in certain situations. Most creditors have to sue you and get a wage garnishment order from the district court before they can garnish your wages. Kansas wage garnishment laws and federal law limit the amount that can be taken each pay period. In the Sunflower State, you can stop a wage garnishment by paying the total amount owed or filing for bankruptcy protection.
What Is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a way for creditors to collect a debt by having funds withheld directly from your paycheck. Each pay period, your employer is required to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck. Those garnished funds are then turned over to your creditor to satisfy an unpaid debt. Generally, a creditor must first file a lawsuit in district court for nonpayment and get a judgment against you. A judgment creditor can then get a wage garnishment order, which allows them to take part of your income from your paycheck.
Depending on the type of debt you owe, some creditors can garnish your wages without filing a lawsuit against you. These special creditors are mostly governed by Kansas law and are generally required to give you notice before taking garnished wages.
Who Can Garnish My Wages in Kansas?
Original creditors with a wage garnishment order can garnish your wages in Kansas. A wage garnishment order is a court order a creditor can get once they win a lawsuit and get a judgment against you. The original creditor is the lender that gave you the loan or credit. In Kansas, debt buyers and debt collectors can’t garnish your wages. This is a special distinction made in Kansas state law.
An original creditor can sell your debt to a debt buyer. When this happens, the debt buyer can sue you for nonpayment of that debt. But even with a judgment from a district court in Kansas, debt buyers aren’t able to garnish your wages. Debt collectors are hired to attempt to collect payment from you, but they can’t sue you or garnish your wages. Unless the debt is sold, the original creditor retains the right to file a lawsuit for nonpayment.
Special Rules for Some Creditors
Some creditors are allowed to garnish your wages without filing a lawsuit. Certain federal debts, like federal tax debts and federal student loans, have special rules and operate under their own federal laws. In Kansas, garnishing wages for federal or state tax debts doesn’t require a lawsuit or judgment. Under Kansas state law, child support payments can be taken from your paycheck because Child Support Income Withholding (IWO) isn’t considered wage garnishment under Kansas state law.
Creditors that are able to garnish wages without suing, winning a judgment, and getting an order of garnishment operate under special rules. This article focuses on wage garnishment for non-special debts that can only happen after a lawsuit and with a court judgment, like garnishments for credit card debts.
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Kansas Wage Garnishment Process
The wage garnishment process in Kansas usually doesn’t begin until after you’ve been sued for not paying back a consumer debt you owe, like a credit card, medical bill, or personal loan. You will be notified if a creditor files a debt collection lawsuit against you and given a chance to defend against the lawsuit. If your creditor wins in court, they’ll get a judgment against you. If you ignore the lawsuit, your creditor can get a default judgment against you. Either way, you become a judgment debtor and have 14 days to pay the debt in full. If you don’t, your judgment creditor can take serious collection action against you, including wage garnishment.
Kansas Order of Garnishment
The Kansas wage garnishment process begins when your judgment creditor files a Request for Garnishment asking the district court to issue an Order of Garnishment. Garnishment in Kansas can be for earnings or non-earnings. This means that your creditor can try to collect from your employment wages or from property you own, which can include taking money directly from your bank account.
Once the court orders a garnishment against your earnings, you and your employer will be notified. You’ll receive a copy of the Order of Garnishment and a Notice to Judgment Debtor that explains your rights and how to challenge the wage garnishment.
Your employer is known as the garnishee. The garnishee will be sent the garnishment order along with Kansas Judicial Council Forms Instructions to Garnishee, Answer of Garnishee, and Request for Written Explanation & Affidavit. The answer affirms your employment and calculates the amount that will be withheld from your paycheck each pay period. The employer-garnishee has 14 days to complete their answer and must provide a copy to you, the court, and your creditor. Both state and federal laws protect you from being fired for having a wage garnishment.
Some property and money are protected and can’t be taken or garnished because of Kansas exemptions. Exempt income in Kansas includes Social Security benefits, public assistance benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, qualified retirement or pension payments, and other types of income.
You can dispute the wage garnishment if an exemption applies to your income or if too much income is going to be garnished each pay period. The Notice of Garnishment you receive includes instructions on how to request a hearing and claim an exemption. Once wage garnishment begins, your creditor can garnish your wages until the debt is paid off or you take some measure to stop the garnishment, such as filing for bankruptcy.
How Much of My Paycheck Can Be Taken by Wage Garnishment?
The maximum amount of your paycheck that can be garnished for any workweek is limited by federal and state laws. Only a percentage of your disposable earnings can be garnished so that you’re able to meet your family’s basic living expenses. Disposable earnings are the part of your paycheck left after required deductions are made, including income tax, Social Security, and Medicare.
In Kansas, the most a creditor can garnish from your wages is either 25% of your disposable earnings per workweek or the amount of your disposable earnings per workweek that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25 x 30 = $217.50). Whichever amount is less will be the maximum amount of your paycheck that can be garnished in Kansas.
The amount that can be garnished is limited by exemptions on a per paycheck basis. The total amount garnished can’t be more than the judgment, plus fees, costs, and interest. If your weekly disposable earnings are less than $217.50, then your wages can’t be garnished by a judgment creditor. The limits on wage garnishment for child support or alimony support orders are higher and range from 50% to 65% of your disposable income in Kansas.
How To Stop a Garnishment in Kansas
You can stop wage garnishment in Kansas by claiming an exemption, paying back the debt in full, or filing for bankruptcy protection. You may be able to pay the amount owed off in a lump sum or over time through wage garnishment. Your creditor has to stop garnishing your wages once the judgment amount plus interest is paid off.
You can stop a wage garnishment by filing for bankruptcy in Kansas. When you file, an automatic stay goes into effect, which stops all collection activity against you including wage garnishment. After a successful bankruptcy, many of your debts will be erased and you won’t have to pay them back and can’t face wage garnishment for them. Bankruptcy exemptions in Kansas protect your assets and property valued up to a certain dollar amount.
If you’re facing debt collection lawsuits, judgments, and wage garnishment, then it’s time to explore your debt relief options. Bankruptcy attorneys in your area can give you legal advice and may offer free consultations. Upsolve offers a free tool that can help you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own if you qualify.
Are There Any Resources for People Facing Wage Garnishment in Kansas?
Kansas Legal Services is a statewide nonprofit law firm and community education organization that helps low-income people in Kansas with debt collection issues. They have 11 legal offices around the state. You can complete an application for help online. The Access to Justice Advice Line at 800-675-5860 is open to income-eligible Kansas residents who need help with civil or domestic legal matters. Free, low-cost, and sliding scale legal aid services help people access the court system and their civil legal rights.
The following official Kansas resources and nonprofit organizations offer helpful information on wage garnishment in Kansas: