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A court may order a garnishment to help a successful plaintiff collect money damages from a defendant. A garnishment order instructs a third-party who owes money to the defendant to pay some or all of that money to the plaintiff instead of the the defendant. This third party is called a "garnishee."

Most garnishments affect defendants' wages. For example, a court might garnish a defendant's wages to pay child support, student loans, or back taxes. The federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, codified at 15 USC § 1671 et. seq., limits wage garnishments to 25% of an employee's take-home pay, or 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less. 15 U.S.C. § 1673(a). Many states have similar restrictions on wage garnishments. See State Civil Procedure Rules.

A few courts allow plaintiff debtor_and_creditor|creditors to request wage garnishment even before the plaintiff wins his or her case as a provisional remedy. See, e.g., Rule 64(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Usually, however, courts prefer to use other provisional remedies. See, e.g., attachment.

See Civil Procedure.