Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill eliminates the 13-week limit imposed on the garnishment of earnings
of certain debtors. Under current law, a creditor may file a garnishment notice with
a court and pay a fee to a garnishee for the purpose of collecting an unsatisfied
judgment for money damages from earnings owed to the debtor by the garnishee.
Current law limits the number of weeks in which the earnings of a debtor, other than
a debtor who is an employee of the state or a political subdivision of the state, may
be garnished to 13 weeks.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
812.33 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
The creditor shall pay a $15 fee to the garnishee for each earnings 2
garnishment or each stipulated extension of that earnings garnishment
. This fee 3
shall be included as a cost in the creditor's claim in the earnings garnishment.
812.35 (5) of the statutes is amended to read:
Upon being served, the garnishee shall determine whether the 6
garnishee may become obligated to the debtor for earnings earned within pay periods 7
beginning within 13 weeks
after the date of service. If it is unlikely that the 8
garnishee will become so obligated, the garnishee shall send a statement of that fact 9
to the creditor by the end of the 7th business day after receiving the earnings 10
garnishment form under sub. (3). The creditor shall send a copy of this statement 11
to the court within 7 business days after receipt of the statement.
812.35 (6) of the statutes is amended to read:
If the garnishee may become obligated to the debtor for earnings 14
earned within pay periods beginning within 13 weeks
after the date of service, but 15
one or more earnings garnishments against the debtor have already been served on 16
the garnishee and not terminated, the garnishee shall retain the earnings 17
garnishment form and place the garnishment into effect the pay period after the last 18
of any prior earnings garnishments terminates. The garnishee shall notify the 19
debtor of the amount of the garnishment and shall notify the creditor of the amount 20
owed on the pending garnishments by the end of the 7th business day after receipt 21
of the garnishment form under sub. (3). If, before the earnings garnishment takes 22
effect, the garnishee determines that it is unlikely that the garnishee will continue 23
to be obligated to the debtor for earnings, the garnishee shall notify the creditor and 24
court under sub. (5) within 7 business days after making that determination.
812.38 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
A motion or petition under sub. (1) may be made at any time during 2
the pendency of the earnings garnishment. Within 5 business days after a motion 3
or petition is filed under sub. (1), the court shall schedule the matter for a hearing 4
to be held as promptly as practicable. The court shall notify the parties of the time 5
and place of the hearing. Upon conclusion of the hearing, the court shall make 6
findings of fact and conclusions of law. The court shall make such order as required 7
by these findings and conclusions. If the order permits the garnishment to proceed,
8the date on which the order is served upon the garnishee shall substitute for the
9original date of service of the garnishment upon the garnishee under s. 812.35 (3) for
10the purpose of determining any 13-week period under s. 812.35 (5) or (6).
A court 11
order shall bind the garnishee from the time the order is served upon him or her.
812.395 of the statutes is created to read:
13812.395 Garnishment of earnings remains in effect.
A garnishment of 14
earnings payable to a debtor, including a debtor who owes victim restitution ordered 15
under s. 973.20 (1r), remains valid and effective until the judgment is satisfied, 16
unless sooner terminated by order of the court.
812.40 of the statutes is repealed.
812.405 of the statutes is repealed.
812.42 (2) (b) of the statutes is repealed.
812.44 (3) of the statutes is amended to read:
The earnings garnishment form issued by the clerk under s. 812.35 22
(2) shall be in substantially the following form:
STATE OF WISCONSIN
CIRCUIT COURT: .... County
File or Reference Number ....
THE STATE OF WISCONSIN, To the garnishee:
The creditor has been awarded a court judgment that has not been paid. As a 10
result, the creditor claims that a total of $.... is owed by the debtor, as follows:
A. Unpaid balance on judgment $....
B. Unpaid postjudgment interest $....
C. Costs of this earnings garnishment14
The creditor believes that you will owe the debtor for earnings
within the next
1713 weeks after the date on which you receive this form
. If the $15 fee is tendered with 18
these papers, you are directed by the court to do the following:
DETERMINE WHETHER YOU WILL
OWE THE DEBTOR EARNINGS
1. Determine if you are likely to owe the debtor for earnings
in pay periods 22beginning within the next 13 weeks earned on or after the date on which you receive
2. If you are not likely to owe the debtor for earnings in pay periods beginning 25within the next 13 weeks earned on or after the date on which you receive this form
send a statement stating that fact to the creditor by the end of the 7th business day 2
after receiving the earnings garnishment forms.
IF THE DEBTOR SENDS YOU AN ANSWER
3. Whenever you receive a debtor's answer form from the debtor, mail a copy of 5
the answer form to the creditor by the end of the 3rd business day after receipt of that 6
form. Include the date you received the answer form on the copy sent to the creditor.
4. If the debtor's answer form claims a complete exemption or defense, do not 8
withhold or pay to the creditor any part of the debtor's earnings under this 9
garnishment unless you receive an order of the court directing you to do so.
MULTIPLE EARNINGS GARNISHMENTS
5. If the debtor's earnings are already being garnisheed when you receive this 12
earnings garnishment, place this earnings garnishment into effect the pay period 13
after the last of any prior earnings garnishments terminates. Notify the debtor of 14
the amount of the garnishment and notify the creditor of the amount owed on the 15
pending garnishments by the end of the 7th business day after you receive these 16
forms. If there are no prior pending earnings garnishments against the debtor's 17
earnings, place this earnings garnishment into effect the pay period after you receive 18
EARNINGS GARNISHMENTS LAST 13 WEEKS,
20EXCEPT FOR PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
21AND EXCEPT FOR GARNISHMENTS TO
22SATISFY AN ORDER FOR VICTIM RESTITUTION
23REMAIN IN EFFECT UNTIL THE JUDGMENT IS SATISFIED
6. The garnishment of the earnings of employees of the state of Wisconsin and
25its political subdivisions,
and a garnishment to satisfy an order for victim restitution
under s. 973.20 (1r) for victim restitution remains in effect until the judgment is 2
satisfied. The garnishment of earnings of other employees will affect the debtor's
3earnings for all pay periods beginning within 13 weeks after you receive it, unless
4the debtor's earnings are already being garnisheed. If this earnings garnishment is
5delayed under paragraph 5, above, it will affect the debtor's earnings for all pay
6periods beginning within 13 weeks after the first day of the pay period that you put
7this earnings garnishment into effect. If the amount claimed by the creditor is fully
8paid before the end of the 13 weeks, this earnings garnishment will terminate at that
PAYING THE CREDITOR
7. Between 5 and 10 business days after each payday of a pay period affected 12
by this earnings garnishment, pay the creditor 20% of the debtor's disposable 13
earnings for that pay period. Payment is complete upon mailing.
EFFECT OF COURT-ORDERED
ASSIGNMENTS FOR SUPPORT
8. If the debtor has assigned his or her earnings for support by court order, those 17
support payments take priority over this earnings garnishment. If 25% or more of 18
the debtor's disposable earnings is assigned for support by court order, do not pay any 19
part of the debtor's earnings to the creditor. Instead, send the creditor a statement 20
of that fact by the end of the 7th business day after you receive these forms. If less 21
than 25% of the debtor's earnings is assigned for support by court order, the amount 22
the creditor must be paid is reduced so that the total of earnings assigned and 23
garnisheed does not exceed 25% of the debtor's disposable earnings.
19. The debtor and creditor may agree in writing to extend this earnings
2garnishment for additional pay periods beginning within 13 weeks after this
3earnings garnishment would otherwise terminate. If you receive a written extension
4stipulation, and an additional garnishee fee for each extension, you must honor it
5unless a different garnishment against this debtor's earnings is served upon you
6before the extension takes effect. In that case, the extension is void and you must
7return the extension fee to the party who paid it to you.
812.44 (4) of the statutes is amended to read:
The notice of exemption served upon the garnishee under s. 812.35 10
(4) shall be in substantially the following form:
STATE OF WISCONSIN
CIRCUIT COURT: .... County
vs. File or Reference Number ....
C.D., Debtor EXEMPTION NOTICE
and EARNINGS GARNISHMENT
To the debtor:
The creditor was awarded a judgment against you or your spouse by .... (County 22
Circuit or Federal District) Court on the .... day of ...., .... (year) That judgment not 23
having been fully paid, the creditor has now filed a garnishment proceeding against 24
your earnings from the garnishee. This means that the creditor is seeking to take
some of your earnings to satisfy part or all of the judgment against you or your 2
The total amount of the creditor's claim is as follows:
Unpaid balance on judgment
Unpaid postjudgment interest
a. Garnishment filing fee
b. Garnishee fee
c. Service of process (estimate)
By law, you are entitled to an exemption of not less than 80% of your disposable 12
earnings. Your “disposable earnings" are those remaining after social security and 13
federal and state income taxes are withheld.
Your earnings are completely exempt from garnishment if:
1. Your household income is below the federal poverty level. See the enclosed 16
schedules and worksheet to determine if you qualify for this exemption.
2. You receive aid to families with dependent children, relief funded by a relief 18
block grant under ch. 49, relief provided by counties under section s. 59.53 (21) of the 19
Wisconsin Statutes, medical assistance, supplemental security income, food stamps,
or veterans benefits based on need under 38 USC 501 to 562 38 USC 1501 to 1562 2
or section 45.351 (1) of the Wisconsin Statutes, or have received these benefits within 3
the past 6 months.
3. At least 25% of your disposable earnings are assigned by court order for 5
If the garnishment of 20% of your disposable income would result in the income 7
of your household being below the poverty line, the garnishment is limited to the 8
amount of your household's income in excess of the poverty line.
If you qualify for a complete exemption or for a limit on the amount of the 10
garnishment to the amount that your household's income exceeds the poverty line, 11
you must give or mail a copy of the enclosed debtor's answer form to the garnishee 12
in order to receive that increased exemption.
If your circumstances change while the garnishment is in effect, you may file 14
a new answer at any time.
If you do not qualify for a complete exemption, but you will not be able to acquire 16
the necessities of life for yourself and your dependents if your earnings are reduced 17
by this earnings garnishment, you may ask the court in which this earnings 18
garnishment was filed to increase your exemption or grant you other relief.
IF YOU NEED ASSISTANCE
CONSULT AN ATTORNEY
If you have earnings that are being garnisheed that are exempt or subject to a 22
defense, the sooner you file your answer or seek relief from the court, the sooner such 23
relief can be provided. This earnings garnishment affects your earnings in pay 24
periods beginning within 13 weeks
after it was served on the garnishee. You may
1agree in writing with the creditor to extend it for additional 13-week periods until
2the debt is paid.
If you wrongly claim an exemption or defense in bad faith, or if the creditor 5
wrongly objects to your claim in bad faith, the court may order the person who acted 6
in bad faith to pay court costs, actual damages and reasonable attorney fees.