How much of your wages may a creditor garnish in Nebraska? How many garnishments may be placed on a paycheck at any one time? These are two common questions I receive on a weekly basis.
There are limits to how much any one creditor may garnish under Nebraska and Federal law. Nebraska Statute 25-1558 provides that the maximum wage garnishment shall not exceed the lesser of the following amounts:
- Twenty-five percent of his or her disposable earnings for that week;
- The amount by which his or her disposable earnings for that week exceed thirty times the federal minimum hourly wage prescribed by 29 U.S.C. 206(a)(1) in effect at the time earnings are payable; or
- Fifteen percent of his or her disposable earnings for that week, if the individual is a head of a family.
The above limits do not apply to child support garnishments or federal or state tax garnishments. In other words, you may be garnished for a creditor judgment plus child support plus a tax garnishment at the same time. However, you may only be garnished for one civil court judgment at a time.
A private creditor may not garnish wages until they obtain a judgment. To obtain a judgment the creditor must file a lawsuit, serve you with a copy of the lawsuit, and give you an opportunity to file a written answer to the lawsuit. Typically, a person has 30 days after receiving the lawsuit to respond in writing to the Court. Verbal responses are not sufficient–it must be in writing and it must be filed in the Court. Failure to file a written response to a lawsuit will entitle the creditor to a Default Judgment. Once a judgment is entered the creditor may begin garnishment actions.
These limits apply to wage garnishments only and not to garnishments of bank accounts or self-employment earnings. Creditors may garnish 100% of a bank account or self-employment earnings unless another exemption statute applies.
The filing of a bankruptcy petition immediately protects a person’s wages, bank accounts, and other assets. Under certain circumstances, wages and other garnishments occurring in the prior 90 days may be returned if the proper action is taken by the bankruptcy attorney, although most bankruptcy attorneys fail to do this.