Wages and Salaries : Wage Garnishment

What is garnishment?

Garnishment takes money that you owe someone from your paycheck before you get your paycheck, or from your bank account regardless of any outstanding checks you may have.

Once someone has sued you in court and gotten an judgment against you, they can file additional papers requesting garnishment of your wages or any bank accounts that you may have.

If the request is directed to your bank accounts, you will get a notice advising you of the garnishment, but your account will be frozen by the bank, and the funds sent to the court. The notice will tell you that you have the right to ask for a hearing to disagree with taking your funds.

If you do not ask for a hearing within the time indicated on your notice, your funds will be released to your creditor. The creditor must ask the court for an order every time it wants to garnish your account.

What happens once a garnishment has been ordered by the court?

If the request is to garnish your wages, you will first get a notice telling you that you can avoid garnishment by paying the amount calculated by you and your employer. The notice will have a work sheet for you to calculate the amount of your wages that can be taken.

If you do not return this notice with a payment or calculation showing your total earnings are exempt within the time given in the notice, the creditor will then go to court for an order to garnish your pay. You will get a notice from the court telling you about the request and explaining that you can request a hearing if you disagree with the garnishment.

Once the court issues a garnishment order, every pay check will continue to be garnished without further orders until the amount of the judgment has been collected, or your circumstances change.

Can all my income be garnished by a creditor?

Ohio law completely exempts some sources of income from seizure by creditors. These include:

  • social security retirement or disability benefits,

  • SSI,

  • OWF and other public benefits,

  • worker’s compensation and unemployment compensation.

If your benefits are directly deposited in your bank account, the money continues to be exempt.

What should I do if I get a notice of garnishment?

If you get a notice of garnishment, you should immediately request a hearing.

In the hearing request, you should write that the money in your account comes from an exempt source. When you go to the hearing, you should take documentation showing the source of your deposits.

If you incur bounced check fees as a result of the garnishment of exempt funds, some banks may forgive these charges if you ask.


Only 25% of your disposal earnings can be garnished by creditors. Disposal earnings is the amount you earn for one pay period, after taxes have been taken out.

Get more information about wage garnishment with sample forms now.

What happens after a judgment is made by the court?

Once a judgment is entered against you, either by default or by the judge, the collector can take steps to try to collect the judgment. A judgment gives a creditor the right to try to collect money by garnishing your wages or your bank account, putting a lien on your real estate or seizing some personal property.

A creditor cannot do any of these things until it has a judgment against you. You cannot be sent to jail for failing to pay a judgment, and you need to consider your financial circumstances before deciding whether to try to pay a judgment. You may be judgment proof and the suit will have little or no effect on your present financial circumstances.


See also the Forms & Education tab in this section for more information.

The information in this site is not intended as legal advice.
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