WAGES EXEMPT FROM GARNISHMENT

While looking for a mislaid pair of gloves, I poked my head in the closet where the cats keep their toy box, and amid their battery powered mouse, toy bones stolen from Bowser, and some inappropriate photographs, I saw a crumpled sheath of papers that looked like a summons and complaint.  Sure enough, the cats had simply thrown it in their toy box without filing an answer. Before I could reprimand the cats for their carelessness, there was a knock on the door, and when I opened it I was served with a writ of execution requiring me to deliver to the sheriff any money held by me that was payable to the cats. Bowser had obtained a default judgment due to the cats’ failure to respond to his complaint.

As I was reading the writ of execution, the cats came up from the TV room and wanted to know what I was holding in my hand.  I explained that it was a writ of execution requiring me to deliver to the sheriff the allowance that I was about to give to them. The cats’ response cannot be published in a periodical of general circulation.  They had planned on using that money to go to a movie and needed every cent.  They complained that the price of popcorn has increased to such an extent that they are forced to suffer the indignity of having to share a tub.

I suggested that they obtain legal advice, but when they called their San Francisco attorneys the cats were informed that their lawyers were out of the office for three weeks on a tour of Antarctica to view the Emperor penguins. Reluctantly, they consulted me.

I told the cats that if the money that was due to them was wages then they could file a claim of exemption since the amount due was less than forty times the minimum wage and therefore exempt from execution, but if they were entitled to the money and it was not wages, then I had to turn it over to the sheriff.   They wanted to know the definition of wages, and I told them that wages are compensation for services.  In alarm, they said, “You mean, like work?!”  I nodded my head.  The cats were stumped, momentarily, but then they reminded me that they licked their plates clean after every meal so that I hardly had to wash them at all, and this was certainly a service to me entitling them to compensation.  I told the cats that I would help them complete the claim of exemption form and gave them their allowance, which they counted, carefully.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include real estate, business law, estate planning and elder law.

© Allen Drescher