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How Long Does A Garnishment Last?

written by: Stephanie Mojica•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/28/2011

“How long does a garnishment last?" may be on your mind if you’re in serious debt. Unfortunately, a simple answer does not exist. The length of time depends upon numerous factors, such as the type of debt, type of court action approved and your state of residence.

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    Garnishment Basics

    “How long does a garnishment last?" is probably one of the most frequently asked questions in the debt world. Learning just what a garnishment is and what it takes for a creditor to get one is also not simple. A garnishment usually means a creditor—whether a credit card company, a collection agency or even the federal government—pursues court action against you. If the creditor thinks no other means exist to gain debt repayment, you will be civilly sued in your local court. At that point, if the judge approves the creditor can garnish your wages or part of your bank account. You want to do all you can to avoid this; losing part of your wages by force can dramatically reduce the power you hold over your personal spending plan.

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    Short Answer to the Question

    Some states allow reviews after 6-12 weeks though in most cases garnishment will last until the debt is paid in full. In the case of reviews, the creditor usually must renew their judgment petition and pursue additional court action.

    Keep in mind that not only will the garnishments be used to cover your original debt, but any court fees associated with the debt collection. The judge may also award the requesting company the right to add additional interest rates to the original debt claim. This is especially true when it comes to credit card debt, defaulted loans (especially student loans), tax debt or bad checks.

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    Every state approaches wage garnishment differently. In Georgia wage garnishments can last for 195 days from the court order. If the debt and associated fees are fully paid before this window of time ends, then the garnishments must stop. But if the debt retains a balance after 195 days, the creditor must send a representative back to the appropriate Georgia civil court to renew the garnishment order. Renewals do incur additional fees; these court costs will also be added to your garnishment.

    The federal government can automatically seize your tax refunds if certain debts are owed. If you didn't pay your federal student loans as agreed or owe past state or federal taxes, they can automatically take your tax refunds until this situation is resolved. Also, the federal government can pursue wage garnishment against you for owed back taxes and student loans or obtain a one-time seizure from your checking or savings account. However, non governmental creditors must pursue court action.

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    Generally, creditors don't get to take more than 25 percent of your disposable income to repay a debt. This applies across the board for federally-backed student loan debts; the court will not award even the Department of Education more than 25 percent of your disposable income. But for child support and alimony, your state may require more than 25 percent.

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    Credit Report Impact

    The answer to "How long does a garnishment last?" also can relate to your credit standing. When a garnishment is approved, a court judgment preceded that action. A judgment of more than $50 is usually automatically reported to the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A judgment, even when paid, will remain on your credit history for 7 years from the date you were first sued. A paid judgment or garnishment is still considered a negative credit event that can greatly impact your ability to get loans, credit cards, apartments and even some jobs.

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    "Answerbag: How long can a garnishment last?"

    "Cobb County (Ga.) Government: Magistrate FAQs."

    "Experian: Satisfaction of judgment will not cause the public record to be deleted."

    "Garnishment FAQ."

    "University of Michigan: Payroll."

Financial Help and Garnishment

Receive solid financial advice from the experts at Bright Hub if you are facing garnishment.
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