You may have options if a debt collector is garnishing your wages. You can:
How much of my wages can be garnished?
The laws for wage garnishment are complicated. The law bases how much of your wages may be garnished on your weekly disposable earnings. Disposable earnings are the part of your paycheck leftover after mandatory withholdings. Common mandatory withholdings are:
- State and federal tax withholdings,
- Union dues, and some other already-existing garnishments.
Bills that you have to pay, like rent, utilities, and medical bills are not factored into how much a debt collector may garnish from your wages. The only thing that matters when figuring out how much a debt collector may take from your paycheck is how much you make.
The law in Montana protects the following amounts of your wages from garnishment:
- No garnishment is allowed if your weekly disposable earnings are less than $217.50 per week.
- If your weekly disposable earnings are more than $217.50 but less than $290.00, only the amount over $217.50 can be garnished.
- If your weekly disposable earnings are more than $290.00, no more than 25% of those earnings can be garnished.
If you get paid bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly, the calculation works a bit differently than described above. You can download the Exemptions Worksheet below to calculate how much of your paycheck is exempt from garnishment.
If someone has taken more than they should from your wages, you only have 10 business days to file court paperwork to ask for it back. The paperwork that you would file with the Clerk of Court is called a Notice of Claimed Exemptions. You can go to our Notice of Claimed Exemptions form at the bottom of this article. The Notice of Claimed Exemptions includes a worksheet to help you figure out how much of your wages are exempt.
If you still aren’t sure if your income is exempt, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer.