Wage garnishment is a legal procedure in which a creditor to which you owe money can withhold a percentage of your earnings from your paycheck. Wage garnishments can be voluntary or court-ordered.
Missouri State Law
According to Missouri state statutes, a creditor can take the lesser of 25 percent of wages, 10 percent if the debtor is the head of a family and a Missouri resident, or the amount that is above 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.
Currently, the federal minimum wage is $6.55 per hour. Effective July 24, 2009, that rate will increase to $7.25. Missouri state minimum wage is $7.05. Garnishments are based on the federal rate.
In Missouri, deductions for child support may be as high as 50 percent, depending on how much is owed. Child support garnishments take priority over any other garnishments, unless the Internal Revenue Service has a preexisting wage levy.
Federal law prohibits all employers from terminating employees solely based on wage garnishments, no matter the reason for garnishment. Violation of this may result in a monetary fine and/or imprisonment.
While garnishment may help pay a debt, creditors should keep in mind that sometimes debtors will choose to quit working or file bankruptcy. However, IRS and child support debts are not bankruptcy-dischargeable.