How to decide whether to garnish wages or negotiate re-payments?

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How to decide whether to garnish wages or negotiate re-payments?

I have a judgment to collect $160,000, plus interest. I am trying to decide if it would be wiser to accept his offer of payments in the amount of $958 over a 10 year period or garnish his wages. I understand most judgments are never collected so I am not sure which way to turn.

Asked on October 3, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do you know the defendant's income? Even approximately? Garnishment is typically limited to 25% of disposable wages--though "disposable" is defined in a limited fashion, and does not factor in housing, food, etc., but only takes into account withholding or deductions required by law, like FICA. (Note: if he earns less than around $300/week, you can't garnish at all.)

If the person earns, say $60,000 per year, you cold potentially garnish up to around $12k - $13k per year. With higher earnings, you could garnish more; lower earnings, less. This is what to consider when looking at whether to take the deal or not; compare what you possibly could get per year to what you are offered.

Also if he any real property, you could put a lien on it as well. You may be able to garnish his bank account and certain brokerage accounts if he has money there. It's possible to force the sale of certain property (like cars and boats)--thus, if he has assets, there's another way to collect.


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