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Terms and Definitions

What is a garnishment?

Updated: May 21, 2024

Garnishment definition and meaning

A garnishment is a legal procedure a creditor uses to collect a debt, usually in the form of wages. A third party, such as an employer, withholds wages from an employee. It allows an individual or creditor to collect money owed by the employee before it even reaches them. While the court order affects the employee’s wages, it is the employer who is responsible for garnishing and remitting the payments. are by a creditor, the individual or entity owed money, to collect a debt.


More about garnishments

When a lawsuit has been won against an employee, the terms of the settlement may require that it be paid with money taken directly from that employee’s wages. This withholding of wages, or garnishment — is performed by the employer, and sent directly to either the court or to the individual who won the lawsuit — depending on the decision of the court. The employee’s wages are then garnished until the court-ordered debt has been paid.


Some of the most common examples of garnishments are divorce and child support settlements, or to repay creditors.

Using garnishment in a sentence

“Every two weeks, I need to take an $80 garnishment out of my employee’s check and send it to the IRS to pay her back taxes.”

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