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Additional Notes on Garnishment and Support Orders


  1. "Earnings" are defined to be any "compensation paid or payable for personal services whether denominated as wages, salary, commission, bonus, payments to an independent contractor, or otherwise, whether paid directly to the individual or deposited with another entity or person on behalf of and traceable to the individual, and includes periodic payments pursuant to a pension or retirement program." Code of Virginia, Sec. 34-29(d)(l).
  2. "Disposable earnings" are defined to be "that part of the earnings of any individual remaining after the deduction from those earnings of any amounts required by law to be withheld." Code of Virginia, Sec. 34-29(d)(2). The present garnishment order is of course not to be considered in determining "disposable earnings." Note that many common deductions made for the benefit of or at the request of the employee are not required by law to be withheld.
  3. "Garnishment" is defined to be "any legal or equitable procedure through which the earnings of any individual are required to be withheld for payment of any debt." Code of Virginia, Sec. 34-29(d)(3). This includes court orders not entitled "garnishments", such as support orders.
  4. Always be sure calculations of protected amounts are based on the current federal minimum wage rate.
  5. No employer may discharge any employee by reason of the fact that his earnings have been subjected to garnishment for any one indebtedness. Code of Virginia, Sec. 34-29(f).
  6. An employer may charge the employee a processing fee, not to exceed $10.00 for each garnishment summons, and $20.00 for each tax lien. For support orders, see below.
  7. Support Orders:
    1. Federal law requires employers to honor income withholding orders from child support agencies in other states. The processing fee is determined by the law of the state in which the employee is principally employed. Under Virginia law, the employee may be charged $5.00 for each pay period for support orders.
    2. Payments are to be remitted on the day of withholding unless the employer remits electronically (EFT), in which case remittance must be within 4 days of the withholding.
    3. Support withholding orders can legally be served on employers by facsimile as well as by mail.
    4. The employer is required by law to provide the employee a copy of the withholding order showing the amount withheld; the employer should receive a copy for this purpose.

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