Do garnishments require court orders?

In general, private creditors (e.g., those seeking to recover unpaid credit card or medical bills) must sue for the right to request a garnishment order. Alimony payments cannot be garnished without a court order.

However, some types of garnishments do not need a court order:

  • Child support orders, including health insurance deductions for mandatory enrollment of a dependent, automatically include garnishment orders.
  • Federal (e.g., the IRS) and State tax agencies do not need court orders to collect unpaid taxes through garnishments and levies.
  • Private and government agencies also do not need court orders to recover payments on defaulted Federal student loans through garnishment

You may contest the terms of a garnishment order, e.g., to provide proof that the amount of garnishment is too great, but cannot refuse to honor a garnishment order or tax levy.

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