Creditors can garnish up to 25 percent of a judgment debtor's disposable earnings, so garnishments can seem to last for an eternity. The debtor's employer has to withhold the required amount and forward the money to the creditor until the garnishment is paid in full. You can subtract what you've paid toward the garnishment so far from the original balance to determine how much you have left to pay.
Review the Garnishment Order
A creditor must submit a writ of garnishment, granted by the court, to your employer before a garnishment can begin. The writ orders your employer to withhold the appropriate amount of your earnings. Your employer must then file an answer to the writ stating whether you still work for the company and, if so, the amount of your wages per pay period.
The employee is typically entitled to a copy of these documents. Review the writ or the initial garnishment order if you still have a copy. Identify the total amount of the garnishment then subtract the amount that you've paid toward it to calculate the remaining balance.
Read More: What Is a Garnishment Release?
If You Don't Have a Copy of the Writ
If you've misplaced your copy of the writ or never received one, ask the clerk at the court where the garnishment was issued for a copy. You can also request a copy from your employer. In either case, you should also be able to get a copy of the underlying judgment or order, which should list the total amount of the debt if the writ does not. The total amount will invariably include court costs, fees and interest.
Some employers include the amount that has been garnished year-to-date from an employee's pay on his check stub. This can help you identify how much you've paid to date.
Seek a Reporting
In some jurisdictions, creditors are required to provide the debtor or his employer with a periodic reporting or accounting of the amount that has been garnished. For example, Maryland law requires that creditors provide monthly reports. Nevada requires an accounting every 120 days to show the debtor the remaining balance on the judgment. If your state does not require a periodic report, petition the court for an accounting.
Contact the Creditor
The creditor or its attorney is responsible for keeping track of the payments that are made toward the debt. Additionally, the creditor or its attorney must inform the court when the debt is paid in full so the garnishment can be released. Check with your creditor about the remaining balance. Ask for any documents that you are missing to compare the information that the creditor provides with the amount you believe you have paid.
Samantha Kemp is a lawyer for a general practice firm. She has been writing professionally since 2009. Her articles focus on legal issues, personal finance, business and education. Kemp acquired her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She also has degrees in economics and business and teaching.