This is intended to be an educational and informational guide. It is not intended to be or to substitute for legal advice and representation. Law, legal requirements, and procedures vary from place to place. It is advisable to consult an attorney.
What is a Complaint in Proceedings Supplemental?
After someone has sued you and gotten a money judgment against you, you may be served with what is called a "Complaint in Proceedings Supplemental". There will be a Court hearing at which the Judge will decide if you have any income which can be given to the person who sued you and won and has a money judgment against you. When served with these papers, you are ordered to go to Court on the day and at the time of the hearing. If you do not go to Court, a bench warrant for your arrest may be issued. If you find out that you have missed a Court date, you should call the Court or the attorney representing the party who has a judgment against you and ask that a new Court date be set. At the hearing, the Court and the attorney or the party with a judgment will ask you questions about your current income. You must answer their questions. To do so, bring with you to Court proof of any income that you have, such as your pay stubs, your tax return, and proof of public assistance and social security. The Court will use this information to decide whether you have any income which can be garnished or taken from you by the Court to pay the other party. Wages, commissions, money paid to you for rent, interest and dividends may be considered for garnishment to pay the debt. Unemployment, Social Security, TANF, or other benefits cannot be garnished.
How does the Court decide how much you can pay?
The Court will use a formula to determine if you have enough income to be garnished. Different rules apply to child suport.
If your income after taxes is less than $217.50 per week, you do not make enough for the Court to garnish your wages based on minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or $290 for 40 hours. This number will change each time the minimum wage changes.
If you make more than $217.50 per week after taxes, the Court gan garnish all of your income over $217.50 per week, but no more than 1/4 or 25% of your weekly income.
The judgment against you will bear interest at the rate of 8% per year on the unpaid balance.
EXAMPLE: If your weekly gross income is $300 and your income after taxes is $260, the garnishment formula is: the lesser of 1/4 of $260 (which is $65), or all you make over $217.50 (which is $82.50). Thus, you would be garnished $65.00 per week.
If you are working, the Court may summons your employer to Court and order your employer to take the money directly out of your pay check and send it to the Court. It is not legal for your employer to fire you because your wages are being garnished.
You cannot be forced to pay any more tahn teh garnishment formula outlined above, though you may agree to pay more.
Can you go to jail if you do not pay?
You may not be put in jail or fined by the Court if you do not have any income in which to pay the judgment. However, you may be put in jail or fined if you do not do what a Court orders you to do. For example, you may be punished if you have received a garnishment order and have income over $217.50 per week and refuse to pay. If you do not come to Court, a writ or bench warrant may be issued for your arrest because of your failure to appear. Therefore, you must never ignore Court papers.
If you are being threatened with jail or punishment, seek an attorney to help you.