Oregon offers an amazing array of affordable places to live, including beautiful scenery. But like every other state, the struggling economy of the last decade has taken its toll. Many Oregonians struggle with massive debt – a combination of taxes, support, student loans and consumer debts.
For tens of thousands, the debt load has reached critical mass. Falling behind in one or more of the debt categories, they have allowed delinquencies to become money judgements and money judgments to become wage and bank garnishment orders.
One day, you may find yourself in a place you never wanted to be: a large chunk of your pay check is about to be garnished to satisfy debts to creditors. The question instantly arises: is there anything I can do to stop the garnishment or mitigate its effects?
The answer is yes, absolutely. Since most garnishments begin with a lawsuit filed against the debtor in Oregon state court, that is the place to start. Answer the complaint and raise any defenses that come to mind, such as the debt has been paid or it is barred by the statute of limitations. If that fails and the writ of garnishment is issued, then it is served on the employer, who has an obligation to garnish.
The good news here is that both federal and Oregon state law limit the amount that an be garnished. Generally speaking, the amount is 25% of the employee’s take-home pay. In addition, there are other exemptions that prevent or limit garnishment: Social Security and other federal benefits, pensions, state assistance and unemployment benefits, and so on.
The employer itself has three important steps to follow in carrying out the garnishment process, involving substantial detail. These must be carefully examined, at least initially with qualified payroll, CPA, human resources or legal assistance. And if there are multiple garnishments, certain priority rules apply.
Our feature article today on Oregon’s garnishment laws gets you started on the road to understanding the garnishment process in that state. We hope it is helpful.