After a judgment for money owed has been won in court, the creditor may take any legal means to collect the debt.  This can include wage garnishment, bank account or personal property attachment or judgment lien against property.

If the creditor seeks to garnish wages, the debtor has a right to notice.  A notice must be sent at least fifteen (15) days before a proposed garnishment.  This allows the debtor time to try to avoid garnishment.  There are several options:

  • Pay the debt in full. Pay by check or money order and keep a copy for your records; or
  • Ask your municipal or county court to appoint a trustee to receive your paycheck and make payments.  The trustee will divide your non-exempt pay among all your creditors.  You must continue until all the debts are paid.  As long as you continue, no creditor can garnish your wages; or
  • Pay the creditor an amount equal to what would be garnished.  

You may also work with a debt counseling service to negotiate a debt payment schedule.  This may take longer than 15 days.  You may be garnished at least once.  

A debtor has limited time to act.  After the ’Fifteen Day Notice,’ the court will notify the debtor’s employer about the garnishment.  The employer then gives notice to the debtor.  To dispute the garnishment, the debtor must file a request for hearing with the court by the fifth (5) business day after receiving the employer’s notice of garnishment.  The hearing must be held within twelve (12) days after the written request is received by the court.

At the hearing, the issues are limited.  The court will hear a claim of exemption or a defense to the garnishment.  The burden is on the debtor to prove that the wages of a given pay period are exempt or that the creditor has improperly calculated the amount due.  Under Ohio law, a minimum amount of pay is exempt and cannot be garnished.  This means that the creditor cannot take the entire paycheck.  Use the garnishment calculator (available to download below) to figure out how much of your pay will be garnished.  

A garnishment continues each paycheck until the debt is paid in full.  One exception to continuous garnishment would be if a higher priority (tax levy or child or spousal support) garnishment order is received by the employer.  

An employee may not be fired solely due to garnishment by one creditor in a 12 month period.  An employee cannot be fired if an additional garnishment is for a support order.

Garnishment Calculator Worksheet.

This article is meant to give you general information and not to give you specific legal advice.
Prepared by Community Legal Aid Services, Inc. Information updated April 2013. CE-02-F019-CLAS