What are the Wage Garnishment Laws in Illinois?

Having wages garnished can be devastating. In this tough economy, many people are struggling to meet their basic living expenses and simply don’t have enough income left over to pay off their debts. Creditors typically use wage garnishment in Illinois as a final attempt to collect outstanding debts. During this process, you can no longer decide how to spend your hard earned pay, and your employer becomes involved in your financial hardships. Of course, you’re better off avoiding garnishment by settling your debt before a court issues garnishment order.  If this is not possible, however, you have other rights and options.

Tips to avoid garnishment

If you fall behind on your payments, contact your creditor to make alternative payment arrangements. Also, be sure to respond to any court notices in order to preserve your rights.

How creditors initiate garnishment

In most instances, a creditor must obtain a court order to initiate wage garnishment.  The order forces your employer to withhold a specific amount from your paycheck to pay on your debt.  Consumer creditors, including medical creditors, credit cards and banks, must first sue you in court and obtain a judgment against you before they can garnish your wages.  However, some exceptions apply and your wages may be garnished without a judgment to pay:

  • student loans debt in default status
  • court-ordered child support payments
  • child support arrears
  • unpaid income taxes

Wages and amounts subject to garnishment

Illinois law provides various wage deduction rules  based on the types of debt and the law also places limits on the amount your employer can deduct your paycheck to pay creditors.  For example, you are permitted to keep $371.25 weekly or $1608.75 monthly (calculated after taxes are deducted). Consumer creditors may not seek wage garnishment in Illinois if you earn less. If you earn more than the exempt amount then your employer can deduct the lesser of 15% of your gross wages (before tax deductions) or the amount of your take home pay that is over the exempt amount.

In addition, certain income is exempt from garnishment, including pensions or retirement funds, social security, unemployment, alimony and others.

Bankruptcy can either prevent or remove a garnishment from your check, sparing you from embarrassment and inconvenience.  Contact the bankruptcy lawyers at DebtStoppers, Bankruptcy Law Firm for a free consultation.

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