Wyoming law limits the amount that a creditor can garnish (take) from your wages to repay your debts. The Wyoming wage garnishment laws (also called wage attachments) protect the same amount of your income as the federal wage garnishment laws. For the most part, creditors with judgments can take only 25% of your wages. There are a few types of debts, however, for which creditors can take more.
Read on to learn about wage garnishment law in Wyoming.
What Is a Wage Garnishment?
A wage garnishment or wage attachment is an order from a court or a government agency that is sent to your employer. It requires that your employer withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and then send this money directly to your creditor.
Different garnishment rules apply to different types of debt -- and there are legal limits as to how much of your paycheck can be garnished.
To learn more about how wage garnishments work, how to object to a wage garnishment, and more, see our Wage Garnishment and Attachment topic.
When Can a Creditor Garnish Your Wages in Wyoming?
Most creditors cannot get a wage garnishment order until they have first obtained a court judgment stating that you owe the creditor money. For example, if you are behind on credit card payments or owe a dentist bill, those creditors cannot garnish your wages (unless they sue you and get a judgment).
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Your wages can be garnished without a court judgment for:
- unpaid income taxes
- court ordered child support
- child support arrears, and
- defaulted student loans.
Limits on Wage Garnishment in Wyoming
There are limits to how much money can be garnished from your paycheck. The idea is that you should have enough left to pay for living expenses.
Federal law places limits on wage garnishment amounts. While states are free to impose stricter limits, Wyoming has not done so, although Wyoming law does provide additional protection for certain types of income, which are listed below. Here are the rules:
In accordance with Wyoming Statute §1-15-511 and 15 U.S.C. §1673, your creditors can garnish up to:
- 25% of your weekly disposable earnings, or
- the amount by which your disposable earnings for the week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage (currently $7.25/hour), whichever is less
“Disposable earnings” are those wages left after your employer has made deductions required by law.
Wyoming law protects 100% of the earnings or wages of National Guard members (earned while performing military duties), inmates or parolees in an adult community corrections program, correctional facility, or on work release.
Example. You take home $500 a week after taxes. 25% of your disposable earnings is $125, and your disposable earnings less 30 times the current federal minimum wage is $282.50. Your creditor can garnish the lesser of these amounts, which is $125 per week.
Special Limits for Child Support, Student Loans, and Unpaid Taxes
If you owe child support, student loans, or taxes, the government or creditor can garnish your wages without getting a court judgment. The amount that can be garnished is different too.
Since 1988, all court orders for child support include an automatic income withholding order. The other parent can also get a wage garnishment order from the court if you get behind in child support payments. (To learn about income withholding orders and other ways child support can be collected, see Child Support Enforcement Obligations.)
Federal law limits what can be taken from your paycheck for this type of wage garnishment. Up to 50% of your disposable earnings may be garnished to pay child support if you are currently supporting a spouse or a child who isn't the subject of the order. If you aren't supporting a spouse or child, up to 60% of your earnings may be taken. An additional five percent may be garnished for support payments over 12 weeks in arrears. (Learn more about wage garnishment for child support arrears.)
Student Loans in Default
If you are in default on a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education or any entity collecting for this agency can garnish your wages without first getting a court judgment – this is called an administrative garnishment. The most that the Department of Education can garnish is 15% of your disposable income, but not more than 30 times the minimum wage. To learn more, see the articles in Student Loan Debt.
The federal government can garnish your wages if you owe back taxes, even without a court judgment. The amount it can garnish depends on how many dependents you have and your deduction rate.
States and local governments may also be able to garnish your wages to collect unpaid state and local taxes; however, Wyoming does not assess personal income taxes.
Total Amount of Garnishment
Wyoming law permits only one garnishment at a time; thus, the maximum amount that can be garnished is limited to 25% if federal law governs. If another creditor wants to garnish your wages, that creditor must wait in line behind creditors who began garnishing first and any creditors that have priority, such as the IRS.
Restrictions on Job Termination Due to Wage Garnishments
Complying with wage garnishment orders can be a hassle for your employer; some might be inclined to terminate your employment rather than comply with the order. State and federal law provides some protection for you in this situation.
According to federal law, your employer cannot discharge you if you have one wage garnishment. However, federal law won’t protect you if you have more than one wage garnishment order.
Some states offer more protection for debtors. In Wyoming, your employer cannot fire you because a creditor has garnished or attempted to garnish your wages.
For More Information on Wyoming Wage Garnishment Laws
To find more information about wage garnishment limits in Wyoming, including the procedures that employers must follow in carrying out wage garnishment orders, check out the website of the Wyoming Legislature at http://legisweb.state.wy.us, where you’ll find a link to the Wyoming Statutes.