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 Nevada regulates wage garnishments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated April 21, 2022
If you fall too far behind on a debt, the creditor of that account may pursue legal action against you. If the creditor gets a court judgment, they can garnish your wages until the total amount you owe has been paid. To garnish your wages, they’ll take a portion of your earnings out of your paycheck.
State and federal law limit how much of your disposable earnings creditors can seize and which kinds of income can be garnished. It’s important to understand your rights when it comes to garnishment, how to stop garnishment action, and where to seek legal advice if you need some. This guide will provide you with this important information.
What Is Wage Garnishment?
If you don’t respond to notice of a creditor’s lawsuit against you, the judge assigned to the case will grant the creditor adefault judgment. If you choose to fight a lawsuit and lose, the judge will alsoorder a judgment in your creditor’s favor. In either situation, the judgment allows your creditor to seize some of your assets so that your debt can be repaid. When a creditor seizes income from an individual’s paycheck, this process is called wage garnishment.
Wage garnishment procedures are governed by law and subject to numerous restrictions. Your wages may generally only be garnished if a court has granted explicit permission to a creditor.
Who Can Garnish My Wages in Nevada?
A court may grant a judgment to a debt collector, original creditor, or debt buyer. As long as the judgment is valid, the creditor (which may be a credit card company, a debt collector for medical bills, etc.) can garnish your wages to satisfy that judgment. Most creditors are limited by the restrictions explained in this guide. But student loans, federal tax, child support, and alimony debt may be subject to different withholding rules as these are “special creditor” scenarios.
It’s worth noting that Nevada recently passed legislation that expanded the kinds of income that may be garnished to collect overdue child support to include ump sums, unemployment compensation, retirement income, and even disability income. Because Nevada law treats the prompt payment of child support orders so seriously, this kind of debt should be approached with particular care.
Nevada law is unique. If a court in California, Arizona, Utah, or any other state grants a creditor a judgment against you, garnishments resulting from that judgment may be affected by different rules than those outlined in the Nevada State Code.
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Nevada Wage Garnishment Process
A creditor must file a lawsuit against you before they can receive a judgment to garnish your wages. If you don’t respond to thesummons and complaint that notify you of this lawsuit, the court will issue the creditor a default judgment. If you defend your case and things don’t go your way, the court will issue your creditor a judgment as well.
Both judgments and default judgments give creditors tools for debt repayment. They may, for example, alert your employer that they are garnishing your wages or they may pursue a bank levy to seize funds directly from your bank account.
If you want to fight a garnishment order, you can file a formal objection. People being sued commonly file objections when they no longer owe the debt in question or are current on an installment plan to repay the debt. You can also file an objection if the amount the creditor says you owe wasn’t properly calculated.
In Nevada, garnishment orders expire after 180 days. If an outstanding balance hasn’t been fully repaid during that time period, creditors must re-file paperwork with the Justice Court in order to continue garnishing someone’s wages.
How Much of My Paycheck Can Be Taken by Wage Garnishment?
Creditors can’t take all of your wages. Most creditors aren’t allowed to take more than a specific amount of your paycheck. In most states, creditors can take up to 25% of your disposable earnings or the amount by which your disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less. Your disposable income is the amount you get paid after legally required deductions are taken out of your check.
Nevada state law is more generous. It looks at three formulas to determine how much of your paycheck a creditor can garnish. The formula that results in the lowest amount is the one used to determine your maximum weekly wage garnishment.
The amount of your weekly disposable income that exceeds 50 times the federal minimum wage. The current minimum wage is $7.25, so 50 times that is $362.50.
82% of your weekly disposable earnings if your gross weekly salary or wage on the date that the most recent writ of garnishment was issued is $770 or less.
75% of your weekly disposable earnings if your gross weekly salary or wage on the date the most recent writ of garnishment was issued exceeds $770.
Working through an example to evaluate these calculations in action can be helpful. Say that your weekly gross income — the total amount you make before anything is taken out of your check — is $800, and your disposable income is $640. You’ll need to calculate each of the three amounts above to see which is the lowest.
$640 (disposable income) minus $362.50 (50 x federal minimum wage) is $277.50.
Since your gross weekly salary ($800) exceeds $770, you’ll need to calculate 75% of your disposable earnings. 75% of $640 (disposable income) is $480.
It’s time to compare the two numbers. Since $277.50 is lower than $480, creditors can only garnish up to $277.50 of your weekly paycheck in this example. If one creditor is garnishing your wages up to that maximum amount, no other creditors can garnish your wages at the same time.
The kinds of income that your creditors can garnish arelimited by exemptions. Exemptions protect certain non-wage forms of income from being taken by creditors. For example, most alimony and child support payments, Social Security benefits, unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, and retirement income can’t be garnished by most creditors.
Other benefits and income may also be exempt from garnishment under Nevada law, just as it would be if you filed for personal bankruptcy. The Civil Law Self-Help Center has more information about how to claim exemptions in Nevada.
How To Stop a Garnishment in Nevada
You can stop wage garnishment in two ways. First, you can pay off the amount you owe, either in a lump sum or over time via installments. If you can manage to pay a lump sum — perhaps by selling property, using a tax refund, or taking out a low-cost loan — your creditor may accept less than the total you owe. Resolving your debt for less than you owe is commonly referred to asdebt settlement.
Second, you can consider filing for bankruptcy. If you file for either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will benefit from a legal protection called theautomatic stay. This goes into effect as soon as you file your bankruptcy paperwork. The automatic stay stops creditors from engaging in any collection actions while the court is considering your case.
To learn more about bankruptcy and whether it could benefit you, connect with abankruptcy attorney in your area. Most bankruptcy lawyers offer free consultations with no strings attached. If you ultimately choose to file a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Nevada, you may be able to do so for free using the Upsolve filing tool.
Are There Any Resources for People Facing Wage Garnishment in Nevada?
If you’re struggling with debt and would like to speak with someone about your wage garnishment situation, you can reach out to the team at Nevada Legal Services or the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. These legal aid organizations provide free and/or low-cost legal assistance to members of lower-income households. You may also find additional helpful information on the State Bar of Nevada’s Pro Bono Legal Services page and at the Nevada 211 Legal Aid site. The State of Nevada Self-Help site may also be useful if you’re seeking no-cost or low-cost legal assistance.