Wage Garnishment in South Carolina-NOT!

Paycheck

Written by Spartanburg Bankruptcy Lawyer, Däna Wilkinson

There is no wage garnishment statute in South Carolina.  That’s right–none, nada, zippo.  Despite the fact that every debt collector out there will do his level best to convince you otherwise, most private creditors have no ability to garnish wages in South Carolina.

Note that I said private.  Obviously, government creditors (like the IRS, for taxes, or student loans that have been guaranteed by the government) have the ability to garnish wages.  Your wages can also be garnished in South Carolina (and pretty much anywhere else, too) for child support.   But most creditors, including credit card companies, finance companies, and medical providers, cannot garnish your wages in South Carolina.

If you were a resident of another state that allows wage garnishment, and a court there issued a garnishment order, and then you moved to South Carolina, you may be subject to garnishment, but note that there are a lot of “ifs” in that sentence. The court that issued that order must have had jurisdiction over you at the time the order was entered, among other procedural issues, so many such orders are subject to attack.  If you receive an out-of-state garnishment order, talk to your employer about it, talk to a lawyer about it, and talk to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs and Department of Labor about it as well.  You may have defenses to such an order.

Most South Carolina residents will never see a garnishment order, although practically every creditor that calls you will make that threat.  If you receive a wage garnishment order, whether it’s an out-of-state order, or from the IRS, it is a good idea to immediately consult a lawyer about such an order.  There are options, like bankruptcy, which will stop a garnishment. There are also procedures which may reduce the amount of the garnishment.  Finally, and especially with out-of-state orders, there may be ways to attack the way the order was issued.  Which of those approaches will best serve your needs depends on your overall financial situation–your other obligations, your income, and your budget.   Only an attorney can explain all your options.

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About
Däna Wilkinson (pronounced "Donna") is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Spartanburg, South Carolina and serving South Carolina's upstate region, including Greenville, Spartanburg, Gaffney, Union, Anderson, Easley and Pickens. She has been in practice for more years than she cares to count, but it’s more than 20 years. Däna has been a bankruptcy lawyer from the very beginning of her career as a lawyer. Däna went to law school at the University of South Carolina, where she was Student Works Editor on the South Carolina Law Review and a member of the Order of Coif. She started doing bankruptcy work while still a student, working for a bankruptcy boutique firm whose members included a Chapter 7 panel trustee, and recognized experts in Chapter 11 reorganizations. She enjoyed the work from the beginning, and upon graduation took a job as a law clerk to the Honorable Rodney Bernard, bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Louisiana. Judge Bernard had spent a number of years on the bankruptcy bench, and was an excellent teacher and mentor. Upon Judge Bernard’s retirement, Däna stayed on for a time as clerk to the Honorable Donald W. Boe, until homesickness for South Carolina struck, and she returned to private practice in Charleston. Four years later, she received an offer to return to Columbia, where she practiced until 1997. In 1997, planning to start a family, Däna decided to return home to the Upstate, and opened her own practice in Spartanburg in 1998. Over the years, Däna represented all sorts of parties in bankruptcy: business debtors in reorganization, individual debtors, creditors and creditors’ committees, and trustees. In establishing her own practice Däna decided to focus on consumer debtors, ordinary people who find themselves overwhelmed by debt. Her focus is on the individual needs of clients, and on crafting a solution to their unique financial needs. She is committed to helping clients make a fresh start, and preserving their dignity in the process. Däna is the proud mother of a beautiful, talented and very active daughter, who is, as her mother says, “practically perfect.” She is also active in both church and community activities, all of which means that there is a fair chance that any given blog post was written while in the car pool line or while waiting for a hearing or a meeting to start. Däna is also certified as a bankruptcy specialist by the South Carolina Supreme Court, which means that she has taken and passed a proficiency examination on bankruptcy law, devoted her practice to bankruptcy for a number of years, and continues to take classes on bankruptcy law and related issues. Contact information for Däna Wilkinson: Law Office of Däna Wilkinson 365-C East Blackstock Road Spartanburg, SC 29301 (864) 574-7944 danawilkinson@danawilkinsonlaw.com www.danawilkinsonlaw.com Däna also blogs at www.bankruptcylawnetwork.com.

Comments

  1. Wonderful post on wage garnnishments. May I suggest that you expand upon the topic in your next post and address the amount that can be legally garnished? For those interested in wage garnishment under Arizona law, please visit my recent bankruptcy blog post. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

  2. jcarter says:

    Not sure if the person who wrote this article and is current with SC laws. If the plaintiff has a valid court order judgment, regardless of where the person resides, he, the plaintiff has the right to garnish their wages. “No garnishment in SC–who re you kidding. The items that several people have posted–child support etc. cannot be attached–but the wages surely can be taken.

  3. Russell DeMott says:

    Däna Wilkinson wrote this. She’s a bankruptcy attorney with over 25 years experience and who is certified as a bankruptcy specialist by the SC Supreme Court. Furthermore, she is correct. S.C. Code Ann. section 37-5-104 provides: “With respect to a debt arising from a consumer credit sale, a consumer lease, a consumer loan, or a consumer rental-purchase agreement, regardless of where made, the creditor may not attach unpaid earnings of the debtor by garnishment or like proceedings.” This has long been the law in South Carolina.

  4. Anderson says:

    Hey,
    Thanks! Great post you have written on “Wage Garnishment in South Carolina-NOT!”. Really I can say that your post is very informative, I’ll come across your blog again when you will update it with new.

    Anderson
    http://www.jrlaw.org/

  5. Russell DeMott says:

    Thank you for the compliment.

  6. everett says:

    So just to make sure i understand these postings. Being a SC resident if a wage garnishment order was awarded to a creditor in Virginia they still can’t garnish my wages. I’m asking because I’ve been unable to work fulltime for a couple years due to several surgeries I’ve had and have been unable to keep up with past credit card payments. Last week I received a court summons at my brother in laws address regarding a wage garnishment brought against me by a creditor in Virginia court. Received it last Monday and the case went to court Friday of the same week. I fully understand I would be better off getting a lawyer and probably filing bankruptcy unfortunately at this time I can not afford even that. Thanks for clarification.

  7. Lee Jones says:

    Someone please help! My wages have recently been garnished and I have been a SC resident for years! I company from Wisconsin sued me in a Milwaukee court 1100 miles from where I live. I have tried to convince my employer this cannot be done but I am not having any success. This is a result of an old lease agreement on an apartment years ago. What are my options and how can I get this stopped?

  8. M.Jones says:

    Help, my SC wages are being garnished for an old lease agreement from Wisconsin. What should I do. I have talked to my employer and they do not seem concerned that this is not legal.

  9. Russell DeMott says:

    Call an attorney in your area. You can select an attorney on the home page.

  10. Bob A says:

    Question. If I work for a company in GA, but my residency has always been SC, can a debt collector for credit card debt garnish my wages? Thanks much for any insight you can share.

  11. John N VA says:

    you are right Russell DeMott !

  12. Tracy says:

    Hello. Thanks for all the advice. It has helped ease my mind some to know that credit card companies cannot come after my only car worth only about 2000. I also found comfort that as long as I am a resident in SC, I have been all my life, that credit card companies cannot garnish my wages. I am still concerned however with what if a credit card company tries to take my wages and contacts my employer what do I do then? Lastly I know that your wages cannot be garnished for medical bills but would about state supported ie government agencies on SC that you owe money to can they garnish your wages? For example I owe money to Anderson,Oconee Behavioral Health for outpatient program? I am asking this because about 5 years ago I had a family member who owed a medical detox place on Greenville SC who was successful in garnishing her wages. Please help me get some answers. Thanks

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