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Agencies are taking too much money from check

I understood that the most garnishments a person could have on their wages is two. I have a friend who has the following being taken out of his checks:

1. Child Support/State of Oregon

2. Court Fees/State of Oregon

3. DUII Fines/Jackson County

When all is said and done, his take home pay is about $550 a month. Who can live on that? Is a government agency exempt from having a limit as to how many garnishments they can levy? If, in fact, there is a limit of two allowed, how can he go about getting one of them dropped temporarily or until one of the others is paid off?

— Mary A.

Well, Mary, Oregon law stipulates that an employee cannot be left with less than $840 at the end of the month, or alternatively $218 per week. Your friend should have a talk with his employer and the agencies ordering the garnishments to straighten things out, as it appears his take-home pay is below the amount exempted.

There's no limit to the number of garnishments on a paycheck, but generally an employer can only garnish up to 25 percent per paycheck for whoever issued the writ. Keep in mind that this doesn't mean 25 percent is automatically taken out of your friend's paycheck, that means 25 percent is the maximum amount that can be taken. Child support is the exception, however. In that case, up to 50 percent can be garnished.

Generally, writs are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, although child-support writs and owed taxes take precedence, bumping others out of the queue.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.